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Grazing fees on federal lands lowered

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The federal grazing fee for 2019 will drop starting next week.

According to a news release issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior on Wednesday, the fee will decrease to $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM) for public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and $1.35 per head month (HM) for lands managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

This represents a decrease from the 2018 federal grazing fee of $1.41 per AUM.

The release indicates that the AUM or HM — treated as equivalent measures for fee purposes — is the use of public lands by one cow and her calf, one horse or five sheep or goats for a month.

The newly calculated grazing fee was determined by a congressional formula and takes effect March 1. The fee will apply to nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and nearly 6,500 permits administered by the Forest Service. The federal lands are located in 16 Western states, including New Mexico.

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The formula used for calculating the grazing fee was established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act and has remained in use under a 1986 presidential Executive Order. Under that order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per AUM/HM, and any increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s level.

The fee uses a 1966 base of $1.23 per AUM/HM and then is calculated according to three factors, current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices and the cost of livestock production.

Permit holders and lessees can contact their local BLM or Forest Service office for additional information.