Thursday, February 18, 2016

Conference aims to counsel ranchers on how to cope with feds’ ‘‘overreach.’’

Ranchers who disavow their contracts with federal land management agencies risk losing their grazing allotments and are handing a "Christmas gift" to environmentalists seeking severe limits on public lands grazing, according to Tony Rampton, the Utah attorney general office's public-lands point man. Rampton will deliver that message Thursday when ranchers converge in Richfield for an all-day "grazing rights" conference hosted by the Utah Farm Bureau Federation. The bureau is hosting the conference, titled "Addressing Utah Livestock Uncertainty," in partnership with the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office. These organizations contend the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are engaged in "a systematic dismantling of livestock grazing." "In a state where the federal government owns and controls 67 percent of the land, economically viable family ranches have been established by combining private land and water with public grazing rights," the bureau said in its newsletter. "Federal government claims to water rights, grazing cuts and restricted access have led to a 60 percent drop in family ranching businesses statewide since 1950." According to Farm Bureau CEO Randy Parker, the agencies have sliced Utah grazing levels from 5.4 million AUMs, or animal unit months, to 1.6 million. An AUM equals the amount of forage consumed in one month by a cow-calf pair or by five sheep. Thursday's conference is geared toward "proactive" solutions, rather than the "reactive" gestures gaining traction in some circles. "We want people to look at a way to address these problems that won't involve confrontation and lead to more bloodshed," Parker said...more

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