APPARENTLY FREE MARKET ECONOMICS AREN'T SO POPULAR IN OREGON
The Armed Oregon Ranchers Who Want Free Land Are Already Getting A 93 Percent Discount
AND THESE FOLKS ARE PROTESTING GOVERNMENT ABUSE AND OVER-REGULATION?
The of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon appears to be more than just a protest of the impending imprisonment of two ranchers who set fires that spread into public lands. The armed demonstrators are led by Ammon Bundy, whose father, Cliven, has refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the federal Bureau of Land Management to own some public lands or to regulate their use for grazing. But the government is giving the Bundy family a pretty good deal on the grazing rights it refuses to pay for.
, the bureau declined to renew Cliven Bundy’s grazing permits in parts of Nevada that were reserved for a threatened desert tortoise. But Bundy continued grazing his cattle there anyway and refused to pay any fines or fees. He that the land really belonged to him, so why should he have to pay ?
In 2012, the bureau’s fees for grazing were 93 percent cheaper than the average market rate in 16 Western states ($1.35 versus $20.10 per AUM, which is a fancy acronym for the amount of land needed to support a cow and her calf for a month).
The bureau’s fees are so much lower than the market price in part because its fees are set at a flat, national rate and can’t be adjusted to match demand in local markets. Plus, the bureau sets that national grazing price using a formula, rather than any kind of bidding system or market appraisals, as some other federal agencies with higher prices do. As a result, in 2014, grazing fees covered only 15 percent of the bureau’s costs to maintain grazing lands. The rest of the cost is made up in federal appropriations and covered by taxpayers.