More than $100 million in federal taxpayer subsidies were given last year to ranching operations, many of them run by wealthy hobby ranchers, agribusiness giants, and corporations, according to a nine-month investigation by the San Jose Mercury News. In 17 Western states, livestock grazing is allowed on a total of 254 million acres of national forest and Bureau of Land Management land — an area equal in size to California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington state combined. The fee ranchers now pay to graze on federal land is lower than at any time since 1975, set at $1.35 per cow per month, far below the market average of $11.10. Last year, the U.S. Forest Service and BLM lost twice as much money on grazing program as they spent to restore endangered species.