November 28, 2003

Capital Press

Grazers get another letter

by Tam Moore

The nation’s 25,000 federal grazing permit holders got another letter from Andy Kerr this week. Kerr, an Ashland, Ore., environmental consultant, is executive director of the National Public Lands Grazing Campaign, which seeks federal funding of a grazing permit buyout.

The eight-page letter seeks to turn up the politics a notch by asking permittees to lobby their trade associations and congressional delegations.

Two buyout bills, using the $175-per-animal-unit price proposed by the anti-graze campaign, were introduced in Congress earlier this fall. There was no action on either leading up to the fall recess, but proponents hope to get something going next year.

The issue divides National Cattlemen’s Beef Association federal lands committee members. They were unable to reach a consensus on a position in the summer of 2002, and formal policy remains opposition.

However, stockmen say permittees with allotments made untenable by conflicts with neighbors or tough environmental requirements need a way to recoup money invested in the permit.