The federal public lands grazing fee is holding fast once more. Five years and counting . . .
The federal government announced last week that it is leaving the grazing fee at $1.35 for every month that an individual cow chows down on Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management lands. It's the fifth straight year that the fee stayed at that level, the lowest permitted under an executive order signed in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan.
But we won't waste your time with a lot of comments this go-round, because nothing has changed. Suffice it to say that the fee is based on market conditions and that BLM spokesman Tom Gorey says the market remains bad for cattle due to the bad economy.
"If there were no floor, the fee would go below that," Gorey said of the $1.35 fee. "A fee is based on ability to pay formulas. When market conditions are good, you pay more. When they are bad, you pay less."
The reaction from Greta Anderson of the environmentalist Western Watersheds to this non-change in the fee was sarcasm tinged with frustration.
"$1.35 doesn't buy much these days, unless you are a public lands livestock operator, in which case it buys a cow and her calf an all-you-can-eat buffet for a month on our public lands. It's a ridiculous subsidy for an industry that harms the fragile western ecosystems, degrades water quality, and endangers species. It's time to change the system," said Anderson, of Tucson.