Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy thinks he should be able to graze his cattle on public lands without paying grazing fees.
At first one would think he was just a tightwad. The Bureau of Land Management is willing to let him graze his cattle for $1.35 per cattle per month (they call this an AMU – animal month unit). Those cattle are not only eating natural grasses on federal land, they’re drinking water on that land. By contrast it would cost Bundy $5.00 per AMU to graze on private land.
One of the reasons that the BLM monitors grazing on public lands is that ranchers are notorious for overgrazing, making the land unsuitable for grazing for years.
The Department of the Interior, of which the BLM is a part, is second only to the IRS in providing revenue to the U.S. government. Most of this revenue comes from oil and gas leases, but a significant part comes from grazing fees. If Mr. Bundy thinks he should be free to use public lands to graze his cattle, what’s to prevent an oil company to think they should be free extract crude oil from public lands without paying the government for the oil they take?
What’s becoming clear from the press coverage is that Bundy is one of those anti-government kooks who appeals to other anti-government kooks.