Grazing reform long overdue

Editor:

The Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest's recent lawsuit contends that state grazing fees should be bid competitively since those fees accrue to our schools. Since our statehood Enabling Act requires competitive biding, it is clear Arizona's ranchers have been shortchanging our schoolchildren for decades. Competitive bidding, when undertaken in Oklahoma, increased revenues five-fold.

Another benefit of this lawsuit will be to bring western ranchers into the marketplace. Presently ranchers' below-cost grazing fees on western state and federal lands compete unfairly with eastern, mid-western and southern private-land producers. Arizona's public lands ranchers pay $1.53-1.61 while private leases average $5.00 in Arizona and $7.50 to $35 elsewhere. Economists point out that no amount of fencing and watering costs claimed by public lands lancers can offset the massive fee subsidies they receive. Despite these huge subsidies, 98 percent of U.S. beef is produced on private land! Iowa produces more beef than all the public lands ranchers in the 17 western states.

Also they use taxpayer's dollars to kill our bears, lions and other wildlife so that they can risk calving on our open pubic lands. These ranchers have the audacity to keep such kills secret from the public by a law they lobbied through Arizona's statehouse.

Arizona's public lands ranchers often sublease state land at much higher rates profiteering a the expense of the state and our schoolchildren.

Hopefully my fellow Arizona Republicans who believe in marketplace economics can recognize the "rugged" Marlboro facade as unadulterated socialist hooey. The many subsidies to welfare ranching undercut America's private lands stock producers. This weakens a capitalist nation striving to compete in a global economy.

Who are these new anti-federal, anti-environmental "wise use" ranching and logging extremists? They are simply the embodiment of the West's long affair with state lands socialism.

Gene Anne Parker

Phoenix

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