Beef Production and Persistent Drought
  1. Most federal public lands grazing occurs on Bureau of Land Management (92% of BLM lands 1 ) and U.S. Forest Service (69% of USFS lands 2 ) in the arid intermountain West, from the Sierras in California and the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington to the Great Plains (generally the 11 western states).


  2. Most public lands grazing is to raise beef.

  3. Federal public lands supply only 2% of total livestock feed in the United States.
  4. 3

  5. In arid environments, droughts are more common than not.


  6. An average of 13.7 acres are required to feed one cow and calf for one month on all Bureau of Land Management rangelands; 4 only 2 acres are required to feed one cow/calf for one year on farmlands in the East. 5


  7. As much as 79% of the nation's livestock forage is grown east of the 100th meridian. 6

  8. Only 6% of livestock producers west of the Mississippi River graze federal grazing allotments. 7

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Click here for the United States Seasonal Drought Outlook

1. Wuerthner, G. and M. Matteson (eds.). 2002. WELFARE RANCHING: THE SUBSIDIZED DESTRUCTION OF THE AMERICAN WEST. Island Press. Covelo, CA: 5.
2. Wuerthner, G. and M. Matteson (eds.). 2002. WELFARE RANCHING: THE SUBSIDIZED DESTRUCTION OF THE AMERICAN WEST. Island Press. Covelo, CA: 5.
3. Rogers, P. 1999. Cash cows. San Jose Mercury News (Nov. 7, 1999): 2S.
4. GAO. 1988. Public rangelands: some riparian areas restored but widespread improvement will be slow. RCED-88-105. General Accounting Office. Washington, DC: 12.
5. Rogers, P. 1999. Cash cows. San Jose Mercury News (Nov. 7, 1999): 3S.
6. Jacobs, L. 1991. WASTE OF THE WEST. Lynn Jacobs, Tucson, AZ: 27, citing government sources (noting that 21% of U.S. cattle and sheep feed comes from both private and public lands in the West).
7. Mathews, K. H., K. Ingram, J. Lewandrowski, J. Dunmore. Public lands and western communities. Agricultural Outlook (June/July 2002): 19 (a publication of USDA-Economic Research Service).