Judith Pulley: Bundy’s benefits

April 29, 2014 

Regarding the April 25 news article “ Republicans break with Nevada rancher Bundy”: While Republican abandonment of the “patriot” rancher Cliven Bundy following his racist remarks is commendable, the real outrage seems to have been overlooked by those who oppose government welfare. For Bundy is in fact a recipient of “cowboy welfare” who, unlike other ranchers, refuses to pay even the small fee levied by the Bureau of Land Management for grazing his cattle on public land.

According to an article in Forbes, one month of grazing one cow/calf combination costs $1.35 – a fee that’s substantially below the present-day cost of $16 to $20 to graze livestock on private land. The direct loss to taxpayers is estimated, using GAO data, to be at least $123 million a year – all to produce less than 3 percent of the nation’s beef supply.

Related costs result from the BLM’s program of creating space for the cattle by deploying helicopters to round up several thousand wild horses annually. These roundups cost an average of $750 per head. They are done at the request of cattlemen to alleviate overgrazing caused by the competition of cattle and sheep with wild horses (the original inhabitants) as they forage in a drought-stricken environment.

Judith Pulley

Chapel Hill

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