February 11, 2005 -- The grazing fee for Western public lands managed by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service will be $1.79 per animal unit month in 2005, up from $1.43 in 2004, reported the Forest Service this week.
This newly adjusted fee takes effect March 1 and applies to more than 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and more than 8,000 permits administered by the Forest Service in 16 Western states.
An animal unit month, or AUM, is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse or five sheep or goats for a month. Under the 1986 Executive Order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per AUM.
The annual adjusted grazing fee is computed by using a 1966 base value of $1.23 per AUM and then adjusting it according to three factors -- current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices and the cost of livestock production. According to the Forest Service, the 2005 fee rose primarily because of an increase in livestock prices in 2004.
The Forest Service applies different grazing fees to national grasslands. That rate will be $1.90 per AUM, up from $1.52 in 2004, and will also take effect March 1. Rates for the Eastern and Midwestern states and parts of Texas will be announced later this month.