Federal Lands


— An Integral Segment of the U.S. Livestock Industry

Cattle producers take pride in serving as good stewards of the land and our nation’s natural resources while producing a safe, affordable and abundant food supply to feed a growing global population.

However, regulatory overreach is stifling productivity and growth. NCBA will continue opposing regulations that hinder access to public lands.

What are Federal Lands and Public Lands Grazing?

  • Livestock grazing represents the earliest use of public lands, leading to our nation's expansion westward.
  • In order to organize western grazing, the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 gave grazing preference to ranchers who were already established and making beneficial use of the forage and water on a given range.
  • Today, grazing continues to represent a multiple use that is essential to the livestock industry, wildlife habitat, open space and the rural economies of many western communities.

What should I know about Federal Lands?

  • More than 22,000 public lands ranchers own nearly 120 million acres and manage more than 250 million acres of public land.
  • Unlike many other multiple uses, ranchers pay an annual, usage-based fee. They are also taxed on the value of their permits.
  • The private ranchland ranchers are required to own, known as "base property," constitutes a large portion of wildlife habitat and riparian areas in the west.

What are the Environmental Benefits of Public Lands Ranching?

  • Over the past 40 years livestock grazing has become recognized as an integral tool for rangeland management on both public and private lands.
  • According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, areas with flourishing and diverse plant and wildlife populations are often found in their present state because of grazing.
  • Well-managed grazing helps:
    • Prevent invasion of noxious weeds;
    • Decrease fine fuels, thereby decreasing the risk of catastrophic wildfires; and
    • Encourage robust forage growth and healthy root growth.

How does Public Lands Ranching Help The Economy?

  • In the west, where appoximately half the land is federally owned, countless rural communities rely on public lands grazing for their tax base, commerce and jobs.
  • About 40 percent of the beef cows in the west spend some time on public lands.
  • Without public lands grazing the use of significant portions of state and private lands would necessarily cease, and cattle industries would be dramatically downsized, threatening infrastructure and the entire livestock market structure.

Get involved

Join NCBA, and check out the top policy issues affecting our industry today.

For membership information, contact NCBA at 1-866-BEEF-USA or membership@beef.org.

For our Government Affairs office, contact the NCBA DC Office at 202-347-0228.

I’m a NCBA member...

...because this organization is determined to preserve
this way of life that we have all grown to love.

-Sara Harris - Texas