Would taxpayers save with this program?
Where would the Money for Voluntary Grazing
Permit Buyout Come From?
When the political will exists in Congress to spend money, the money is found
and spent. The public lands livestock industry and conservation organizations
rarely agree on where and how much to spend on the federal public lands grazing
program. However, in the case of voluntary grazing permit buyout, U.S. Senators
and Congressional representatives will be surprised to learn that both permittees
and conservationists request ample funds for the same purpose. These decisionmakers,
who have long desired an end to the public lands range war between conservationists
and livestock interests, should be pleased to prioritize funding for permittees
who indicate their desire to sell their grazing interests to the government.
The return on investment to taxpayers of
buying out federal grazing permits is very good. However, these savings
will not be realized in just one year. Any amount of money spent to buyout permits
in any given year will only result in savings in the following years. This is
important because Congressional budgeting procedures usually require that spending
for new programs--even one that would result in significant future savings--must
be immediately offset in the federal budget by reducing funding for other programs.
So, NPLGC proposes that money to fund voluntary buyout come from:
Private money may also be available for voluntary grazing permit buyout:
- Federal Land Management Agency Budgets. As livestock grazing is reduced
on public lands, agency support services for grazing--planning, allotment
monitoring, resource analyses, fencing, water development, emergency feed,
predator control--will decrease. The money saved from these programs could
be used for permit buyout.
- Range "Betterment" Fund. A significant
portion of federal grazing fee receipts is diverted from the federal treasury
to the Range Betterment Fund, which is used to pay for range developments--fencing,
roads, water development -- for grazing on public lands. These funds ought
to be used for permit buyout.
Reallocating federal grazing fee revenue. Congress could choose to earmark
the relatively small portion of the federal grazing fee that is actually received
by the federal treasury for permit buyout.
- Land and Water Conservation Fund. A portion of federal offshore oil
and gas royalties are earmarked for conservation purposes. While LWCF funds
are always scarce, retiring grazing permits is a worthy use of these monies.
- State or federal fish and wildlife agencies. Retiring federal grazing
permits is an excellent way for state and federal fish and wildlife agencies
to help fulfill their mission to conserve and restore wildlife and their habitat.
- Other state and federal agencies. Other government agencies often
have an obligation to mitigate for the impacts of their activities on the
environment, including the Bonneville Power Administration, Bureau of Reclamation,
and Department of Defense.
Other sources of funding may also be available. Where there is political will,
there is a way.
- Private firms with a legal obligation to mitigate for their activities.
Under certain circumstances, private firms are required to mitigate for their
activities. For example, a geothermal power company in California bought out
federal grazing permits to compensate for the loss endangered desert tortoise
habitat due to its activities. When the sage grouse is listed under the Endangered
Species Act, it is likely that oil and gas companies will be required and/or
willing to buyout grazing permits elsewhere to mitigate for the impacts of
their activities on the grouse.
Private firms seeking public relations benefits. Some corporations, seeking
good will for doing good deeds, will want to buyout federal grazing allotments.
- Conservation, wildlife, recreation and related organizations. The
Grand Canyon Trust, National Wildlife Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
and other organizations have already bought out grazing permits in furtherance
of their organizational missions. They, and others, would buyout more permits
in the future if they could be assured by Congress that the associated allotments
would be permanently retired.
Is there a role for private