Federal grazing program loses money hand over hoof

Aren’t you just sick of welfare queens sucking off the public teat? We’re talking, of course, about Western ranchers who graze their cattle on public land. A new analysis from the Government Accountability Office reveals that 10 federal agencies spent $144 million managing the government’s grazing program in the last fiscal year, and got back only $21 million in fees — less than a sixth of the cost. Most ranchers pay an average of $13.30 a month to graze a cow-calf pair on private land, while running the same bovine duo on public land costs them only $1.79 a month. Conservationists say the program subsidizes activities that destroy the land and provide only a fraction of the nation’s beef, but Jim Hughes of the Bureau of Land Management says the Bush administration has no plans to change current policies. After all, he says, ranchers need “that public land to subsidize operations to stay in business.”