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Welfare?

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Southdakotahunter

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Some day i will be as good as LB with the cutn and pastn.....I thought this was food for thought.......bet it will draw some FIRE.


Welfare Ranchers on Public Lands

There is a promontory on my ranch from which I can look five miles up the Cheyenne River, and eight miles up Big Corral Draw, deep into the Badlands. I am not the first person to sit on this narrow little perch and contemplate the majesty of nature. A few feet away, someone - a holy man? ... a lonely wife? ... members of a hunting party? - buried rocks neatly in the ground in the shape of a prairie turtle. I like the idea that I am not the first person to love this place. And I will not be the last.

All the land before me, across the river, is public. Sprawling over the steep slopes of juniper and table top mesas and clay domes rubbed smooth by a thousand summer showers, the proposed Indian Creek wilderness is nearly 30,000 acres and less than an hour from Rapid City. Indian Creek is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, in my name, in your name, in the name of my mother in Los Angeles, and your grandchildren in Ohio. What a treasure.

But Indian Creek is also a battlefield. It is torn between two opposing sets of values, one rooted in a bizarre combination of nostalgia and greed, and the other, not yet quite born, looking toward the future. So far, the past is winning.

During the last century the public grasslands of the west, including Indian Creek, have been leased to a small group of welfare ranchers. For hard-working, fiscally conservative, Main Street Republicans, this unholy alliance with public lands ranchers is an upside down, scandalous betrayal of conservative ideals.

Here's how the system works.

Let's say I manage my ranch a little better than my neighbor. I work harder, get up earlier, pay a little more attention to the details. My wife works in town and we put aside a little capital to expand. Can I bid on a public lands lease? Can I offer the federal treasury a little bit more? No. I'm locked out. The last thing these tough-talking conservatives want is competition.

So I am forced to lease private land. This year, my fellow ranchers and I can expect to pay $20-$25 for a month of grazing by a cow/calf pair. But at the sale barn next fall we compete against the public lands ranchers who pay the government less than $2 for a month of grazing by the same cow - 10 times less than what I must pay on the open market!

Imagine it this way. You operate a business in town. You sell tires, or floor tile, or electronic gadgets. You compete against someone who sells exactly what you sell, the same exact product! But the government subsidizes his production costs. To make matters worse, the government makes you pay taxes, which it turns around and gives to the other guy in the form of subsidies.

Public lands ranchers like to say that they "improve" the land, and besides, "We 'buy' our permits when we buy our ranches." But the Forest Service doesn't sell permits. And the only "improvement" made to Indian Creek in the five years I've been watching is a new fence built by one permit holder, with the help of a conservation group, to make it possible to graze buffalo in the wintertime.

Public lands ranchers like to say they speak for the cattle industry, but they represent only a fraction of the ranching community: the welfare fraction.

Some years ago the federal government undertook an exercise. What would happen, the Forest Service was asked, if it borrowed $200 million from the Treasury, and paid off the public lands ranchers for the appraised value of their permits? Just choke it down. Buy them out! Then put each permit up for public auction in five-year cycles. All ranchers would be free to bid on the grazing leases.

The results of the study were stunning. The Forest Service would be able to pay back the loan and turn a profit almost immediately. In a few years there would be enough new revenue from the pasture leases to hire staff to work with ranchers to properly manage the public lands, make a real effort to eradicate weeds and control erosion, manage for wildlife diversity, enforce grazing rules, even make improvements to enhance tourism.

Against the old, entrenched system a new voice is emerging. A coalition of ranchers, including some who hold permits in Indian Creek, together with hunters, environmentalists and tourism advocates, have proposed that Indian Creek be designated an official "wilderness area" to protect its wild character forever. Cattle and buffalo grazing would continue. It's required by the wilderness law. Besides, any ecologist will tell you that grazing is essential to maintain the integrity of the grasslands. Indian Creek could be the first grasslands wilderness in the nation.

It would be good for the land, good for the South Dakota economy, and it is what the public wants. But the public lands ranchers will not give an inch.

They crowded into the meeting of the Pennington County Commission last week and threatened that wilderness designation would, in some vague and hysterical way, destroy their "way of life."

That's the way it is with people hooked on welfare. And it worked.

The county commissioners bought it hook, line and sinker, and voted to oppose wilderness designation for Indian Creek ... typical big government, welfare conservatives, one and all.

Sam Hurst is a Rapid City filmmaker. Write to [email protected]
 

Judith

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interesting thread.. The only people in Canada who can get welfare are immigrants...Oops did I say that out loud..... A friend of mine got in to a car wreck and although she had never been on it before she was denied. They did not feel that a head injury was severe enough to keep her from working. :mad:
 

Southdakotahunter

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Ya, the only reason i posted this thread is because of our friend LB. LB seems to like calling some SOCIALISTS. Ya see, welfare is actually any type of program where the government subsidizes or gives you some money...thats socialism. Some feel the gov should have their hands in more than they do now. I would bet LB would tell you she is not socialist, yet she collects and or benifits from government programs....welfare...same difference. kind of like the pot calling the kettle black. How much were your government checks last year LB? I bet she will say "none of your damn business!" I am betting they were more than tony deans.
 

Jinglebob

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Southdakotahunter said:
Besides, any ecologist will tell you that grazing is essential to maintain the integrity of the grasslands.

Seems these "ecologists" have started singing a different tune! They have worked for years to get ranchers and their cattle off from the public ranges in the west.

I am not for welfare either, but it looks to me like a bunch of whining, "pity me" types who are jealous people who want what someone else beat them to. Go buy one of those "rich" ranchers out and you too can have the "welfare checks" rolling in.

The eco-nuts who back these proposals have lied, cheated and tried to get their way by every dishonest deception, for too long, for me to jump on their bandwagon. Sure, I'd like to pay what they do too, but if I wanted to put up with all the hassles they have to run cattle on a place like that, I could sure go buy one out.

Kind'a like those who want all the privledges of owning the land without having to pay and work for it.

Wonder how much "welfare you are getting.

Get rid of all the subsidies, and I do mean all. And good luck with that! :wink:
 

Jinglebob

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Oh, and why is this any different than me whining because I didn't get to buy land cheap, 50 to 75 years ago like some of my neighbors did? Too damn bad Grampa and Great Grampa were so lazy! Yeah, right, that must be the excuse! :mad:
 

Cowpuncher

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Our world is replete with inequities and unfairness.

You have choices. You can lament the fortunate circumstance of others or you can endeavor to change your own.

I will opt for the latter.
 

Jinglebob

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Cowpuncher said:
Our world is replete with inequities and unfairness.

You have choices. You can lament the fortunate circumstance of others or you can endeavor to change your own.

I will opt for the latter.

Exactly! :evil:
 

Faster horses

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One thing that is glaringly obvious to me is the fact that I never hear other ranchers lamenting the fact that someone has BLM or Forest Service ground and they don't; it is other 'types' of people that keep pointing it out; as if they would like to drive a wedge between the 'have's' and the 'have nots.'

I feel just like Jinglebob, there is a lot to having a permit that does not meet the eye. Some other ranchers, like my husband, never did want a forest permit. It never fails in those situations that someone that doesn't know beans about cattle has the say-so over the permittees livestock. Sometimes 'cheap' costs a lot.

We had an old rancher neighbor that told us once, "If you don't have any trouble, just wait, the government will give you some."
 

Aztumbleweed

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I would gladly trade my leases for a deeded ranch (if you all know anybody foolish enough to do this please contact me.) I do not have a problem with the BLM actually doing what they were supposed to do which was dispose of excess government property. But like most government jobs once you start getting that money it is hard to give up. I have heard people say that the government does not make money on the leases and I am sure that is true a huge agency takes allot of money to keep all the nose pickers out. Arizona makes money on grazing leases which they are required to do so teh federal government could to.
 

Denny

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The reason there are subsidies, is this country is in the cheap food business why dont you check and see how much of USDA'S budget goes for foodstamp's.I lease 70 acre's of hayground from the DNR you can't mow it till July 15th the rent has to be paid Jan 1st 6 1/2 months before I cut it which is fine. It is rough as hell what I save on rent which is'nt much as they value the rent on a county average I spend on broken part's and slow going I can bale 200 acres in the time it takes to do 70 of their's. The fields are small and the larger ones you can only mow 1/2 of this one and 1/2 of that one.There is not one neighbor who will hay these parcels and they used to hay them for free and figured that cost to much.

I agree get rid of WELFARE for ALL start with all the worthless non producing americans.After that they would'nt need the rest.

If you really want to save some money why don't you get after the government for buying $100 toilet seat's and $100 hammer's they could get both at Home Depot for $5.00 each think of all they money they waste.Anyone who rents state and Government land has to put up these same dumbasses.
 

Jason

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Not trying to pick a fight, but Denny how do food stamps contribute to a cheap food policy?

If I understand them correctly, they are for low income people to buy food. Safer than cash for those who don't seem to be able to buy groceries instead of vice material.
 

mtrancher

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The way I answer people being critical of "cheap BLM grazing leases" is the same way I answer folks that complain that farmers/ranchers in general are getting too rich. Go out and buy a ranch yourself if its such a good deal!!! That would change their thinking real quick. Anybody that has bought a ranch recently with BLM grazing knows that there is a real premium added onto the value of the deeded land. Right or wrong, thats the way it is. And let me say, the BLM isn't always fun to deal with!! Furthermore most BLM allotments in my area are impossible to seperate from deeded lands because of patchwork type ownership.
 

Denny

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Jason said:
Not trying to pick a fight, but Denny how do food stamps contribute to a cheap food policy?

If I understand them correctly, they are for low income people to buy food. Safer than cash for those who don't seem to be able to buy groceries instead of vice material.

Because they give them say $500 for a month's worth of food.What if food cost's doubled the welfare rats would need a $1000 a month.That is why our government is in the cheap food business..
 

Jason

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I don't think the gov't really tries to keep food cheap just so they save a few bucks on food stamps.

Rent goes up, utilities are higher, clothing etc all will climb anyway so welfare recipients cost the gov't more already.

I think the cheap food is more of an accident, poor planning as it were. The gov't gives a subsidy trying to help farmers, but instead encourage overproduction and lower prices. Then they see ag people in trouble and give another subsidy.
 

Kate/wy

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About 8 % of my ground is BLM ground, which is in scattered forties. It ,of course, is some of the worst land, as it was not homesteaded. I have offered to buy it, no federal funding necessary, but OHH they don't have the time. How about them apples?
 

Liberty Belle

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Since we don't lease any federal land, I can't speak for the problems faced by those Hurst calls "welfare ranchers", however this lady can. Frankly, I wouldn't trade places with her for anything. However, as she says in this article, there is nothing stopping Hurst or SDhunter or Joe Blow from getting in on this "sweet" deal. Have at it, if you think you can stand the headaches.

How 'welfare ranching' really works
By Mary Poss, who ranches near Cottonwood and has served as district manager for both the White River and Eastern Pennington County cooperative grazing districts.

COTTONWOOD - The Jan. 29 Journal carried a column by Sam Hurst criticizing ranchers who are opposed to designating the public lands in the Indian Creek area of the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands in western South Dakota as wilderness. In this column, Hurst states that ranchers who hold permits to graze livestock on public lands are "welfare ranchers," subsidized by the federal government to compete against ranchers who don't happen to have grazing permits.
My husband and I own a ranch and have a livestock grazing permit on the national grasslands. I worked for 10 years managing the grazing associations in Jackson and Eastern Pennington counties. As a "welfare rancher," I would like to respond to some of Hurst's claims.

First, it is true that the grazing fee is less than $2 per cow/calf pair per month. In 2005, we paid $1.90. It is also a fact that permits are not allotted on a competitively bid basis.

Hurst uses the analogy that being a "welfare rancher" is like owning a business in town, selling the same product as your competitor, but being subsidized by your competitor's tax dollars.

Not quite. A better analogy is one I read during a debate on this issue a few years ago. Holding a permit to graze livestock on public lands is like renting an unfurnished apartment. Let's say I pay $200 for the same size apartment as my neighbor down the hall, who pays $2,000. I provide my own furnishings and pay utilities. If my plumbing quits working or I need other improvements, I pay half and can take nothing with me when I move out.

My landlord, Uncle Sam, decides when I can use each room and for how long. I can't negotiate with him to use the kitchen at dinnertime when I need it. Uncle Sam hired a capable manager to work with me, but she's hamstrung. She gets written instructions from Uncle Sam every few years. The instructions are the same for all unfurnished apartments, whether they are high rises or single units. My neighbor can talk to his landlord face to face to resolve problems.

The general public has a right to use the apartment I rent whenever they want. If they leave the door open and some of my stuff is missing, it's my fault. I should have made the door easier to close.

I also have mice and a mold problem. Uncle Sam wants the mice for his favorite cat. He spent more money on that thing than he has on all the apartments in my neighborhood. He agrees the mold is a problem, but between caring for that cat and all the regulations, his staff doesn't have much time to deal with it. I am not allowed to deal with it myself, so I live with it. My neighbor gets pretty mad when the problem reaches his place.

To leave off the analogy, Hurst is also dismissive of permitees who "improve" the land (his quotes). Many miles of pipeline and fence were constructed on the public lands in the grazing districts I managed. If these ranchers had done these "improvements" on their private land, it would have been considered a capital improvement and have increased the value of their land and their net worth. "Improvements" on public lands belong to the public, and the permitees know they can lose the use of them.

Hurst goes on to say that the Forest Service doesn't sell permits. This is true. But when people speak of "buying permits," they are talking about the increased price of base property that must be purchased to acquire a permit.

Having gone through this process, I can assure you the federal government did not subsidize the purchase of our ranch. If anyone would like to become a "welfare rancher," there are ranches for sale right now that have permits associated with them.

Hurst also envisions the benefits of bidding on grazing permits as generating revenue for staff to manage the public lands, eradicate weeds and many other good things. There are already are staff to do all this. One of the things stopping them is the public, all with different ideas of how the land should be managed, and ready to back up their notions with lawsuits if necessary.

Come to think of it, maybe I really am a "welfare rancher." If you look at my standard of living, which is about on par with most ranchers, my family qualifies as low income.

I think it's worth it, even if we do have to take heat from people who would rather attack us personally for holding a grazing permit than address the wilderness issue on its own merits.
February 4, 2006
http://rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2006/02/04/news/opinion/opin850.txt
 

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