Newspaper comments about grazing costs don't sit well

    Commentary by Joel Kretz


    Did you notice that a columnist in one of the local papers just published the second installment of his little jihad against grazing cattle on public lands? I should probably just let it go on by but the pure misinformation, and just plain ignorance kind of stick in my craw. If the article was on the computer, I could just hit delete, but in the newspaper I have to think, “I paid for this bullpucky to be delivered to my house?” 

    The columnist opens with the question; “Is there any reason for allowing cattle to graze on public lands?”  In his world, the answer is a resounding “no,” claiming grazing fees have never covered administrative costs on either a federal or state level, and claiming any other conclusion is “voodoo economics.” Say what? I, like a lot of other private landowners, have leased land out for grazing, and never needed any voodoo to cover my administrative costs. Could the bottom line issue possibly lie in bureaucratic inefficiencies in certain agencies?  

    The writer further states “Grazing on public lands always equals overgrazing,” claiming “grazers, like renters, don’t care for others' property as well as they do their own.” Mr. Pearson, most cattleman graze the same leases for decades, and in many cases, generations. Just looking at simple economics, do you really think it benefits the cattleman to overgraze and degrade the very resource his living depends on?

    And while we’re on the economic angle, what about the catastrophic wildfires occurring almost exclusively on ungrazed and unmanaged government land? What do you think it costs  the public to fight those fires fueled by tall grass and too much fuel? Do you think that other public benefits like helping to control noxious weeds and maintaining water sources that benefit both cattle and wildlife have no value? 

    The writer even tries to debunk the notion that deer and elk prefer to graze on fresh growth occurring on grazed rangeland. Anyone with eyes knows that the deer and elk won’t be out grazing old rank Forest Service forage; they’ll be found in recently grazed regrowth, if not the cattleman's hayfield or haystack. But the writer really tells on himself when he announces he will be hunting on two different ranches this season, as opposed to hunting the millions of acres of ungrazed government land. Only thing I can figure is, he must want to find a deer. 



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