Save money by selling off federal public grazing range

Here is an idea from 1982 whose time has come.

Writing at Forbes magazine online today, Steve Hanke, a one-time senior economist on President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, resurrects an idea he broached 36 years ago — sell off federal grazing lands with the first right of refusal going to current grazing permit holders.

Hanke says Reagan endorsed the idea, as did then-U.S. Sen. and Reagan confidant Paul Laxalt. He quotes Laxalt as saying:

Before we proceed any further, let me tell you where I stand. I believe a need does exist to sell some of our excess public lands. However, I intend to do all in my power to protect existing public land users from being “locked out.” To this end, I endorse a proposal developed by Dr. Steve Hanke, a senior economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, that deals with the protection of existing grazing rights which, I believe, can serve as a model for protecting miners as well. Basically, Dr. Hanke has proposed that ranchers currently holding grazing permits be given the right to purchase, on a first refusal basis, the public grazing permits that they currently rent from the BLM.

Hanke says the federal government should stop renting grazing land — a process by which the government loses 91 cents an acre — and sell it at a profit.

Hanke concludes:

The question now is: what would be the benefits associated with this privatization proposal?

First, the productivity of federal grazing lands would increase.

Second, federal revenues would be generated. Instead of receiving annual grazing fees, the federal government would receive an equivalent lump-sum payment.

Third, the annual federal costs (and these do not include, as they should, capital carrying charges) exceed the annual revenues generated from federal grazing lands. Therefore, privatization would eliminate negative cash flows for the federal government. This would obviously benefit all U.S. taxpayers, who must now pay taxes to support the federal government’s retention of public grazing lands.

Lastly, a state and local property tax base would be created. Western dependence on Washington, D.C. would be reduced and federalism would be enhanced.

Sounds like a winning proposition, especially for taxpayers.

BLM pix


9 comments on “Save money by selling off federal public grazing range

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s a good way to pay for those extra tax deductions for all those guys who buy $5,000 bottles of wine. That stuff’s getting expensive!

  2. Steve says:

    Makes total sense, that’s why it never happened.

    And Bundy would be left out in the cold because he refused to pay…..

  3. Bill says:

    Divesting by the Federal Government of a great deal of land in Nevada has always made sense. That was what the Sagebrush Rebellion was all about. The Federal Government “owns” about 86% of the land in Nevada. Getting a good portion of that land on the tax roles would benefit the state in many ways, not the least of which is the increased tax base.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Divesting the Federal Government of the land we own has never made any sense. Which is why it hasn’t happened and God willing, will never happen.

    To paraphrase “don’t sell land, they’re not making it anymore”

  5. Anonymous says:

    Guess that means the United States has been communist since the beginning of its existence.

    Guess that means all those founding fathers I’ve cited throughout the years (Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, even Thomas Jefferson) for their thoughts on the rights of all, to use the land that is not being used, were commies?

    Not a single good can come out of giving (as Nevada’s history has proven) or even “selling” (as Nevada’s history has proven) land that currently belongs to us all, to a state or an individual.

    Not one.

  6. deleted says:

    I did. Other than “taxing it” (which I’m surprised you’d proffer at all, much less imply it as a “benefit”, I stand by what I said; there are no benefits to selling the land.

    You do realize that the state would almost immediately sell the land right? To private parties who are related in some way to whatever state official charged with deciding these things, and for as few dollars (up front at least) as is possible without the seller and the buyer being hauled immediately into court for theft. And of course the state would then waste the money (cause as we know, that’s what states do) and the same goes to whatever money the state could make through taxation on the property once in the private parties hands. And of course, for most of the land, during the time the state owned it, it would be responsible for tending to the land which means fire control etc. So that’s dollars out of the state budget.

    Not a single reason for selling the land we all own today, and so many reason why not most significantly because to do so benefits ONLY a very few already wealthy people that can’t wait to keep the rabble away from it.

  7. Steve says:

    Sure Patrick, you have a total lock on the issue because it is exactly what never happened to land east of the Mississippi….

    Hint: Land east of the Mississippi is almost all privately owned and generates tax revenue for towns, counties, states and (yes more than it gets from owning) the federal government.

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