Excerpted from his book, Rewilding North America: A Vision for Conservation in the 21st Century, conservationist Dave Foreman supports voluntary grazing permit retirement.
Voluntary Retirement Option. Andy Kerr proposed this legislative approach in 1998. It would allow a grazing permittee to not run livestock on his or her allotment (under current rules, if a permittee does not graze, the allotment can be given to another rancher). A permittee could donate or sell his or her AUMs to the government and the allotment would be permanently retired. Kerr proposes $175 an AUM, a generous price. It would in fact be cheaper in the long run for the government to buy out permits under this program because it costs the Forest Service and BLM much more to operate their grazing programs than they receive in fees. Annual deficits run several hundred million dollars. Alternatively, a rancher could sell his or her permit to a hunting or conservation group, who could then ask the agency to retire it. A pilot bill to authorize buyouts in Arizona was introduced in Congress in 2003 with the support of many federal grazing permittees (one poll in Arizona found that two-thirds of permittees support the buyout). All conservation organizations need to get behind this approach. Those who quail at the $175 per AUM price are being penny-wise and pound-foolish. Removing cattle and sheep from much of the public lands offers untold possibilities for conservation.
Foreman, Dave. 2004. REWILDING NORTH AMERICA: A VISION FOR CONSERVATION IN THE 21st CENTURY. Island Press. Washington, DC: 211. Order the book.