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Grazing Lease Rate Formula up for review

Grazing Lease Rate Formula up for review

We visited with rancher Cody Chandler at his Washington County ranch earlier this week. Chandler is worried about the Department of Lands review of the grazing lease rate formula for endowment lands. Farmers and Ranchers have till September 1st to comment on the lease rate formula. 

What is going on with the Department of Lands and grazing permits?

I’m chairman of the Idaho Farm Bureau  Public Lands Ad Hoc Committee. As far as I understand, two years ago the State Lands Department was charged with the task of investigating and reviewing the grazing fee formula. They want to figure out how much to charge for AUM’s on public lands. It brought them to these different proposals to make sure they are in line with the Constitution, State and rules and everything that they have to abide with.

What are the impacts to Ranchers?

What it can do, is potentially raise the cost of running cattle on State Land. I think it fails to address a lot of hidden costs that we have to deal with. There are different things that come into play that sometimes won't be included into this formula, things like predator loss.Then there are the costs we have to deal with the cost of buying the permit. A lot of people don’t think about us having to purchase the permit from the past holder, so that goes into the cost of running on that public land. We also have the issue of rough terrain to deal with. So our fencing and costs and taking care of the cattle are higher than on private leases we have around the county. There are a lot of other hidden costs that won’t be included in that formula that I’m concerned about and that's why I’d like to visit with the Department of Lands about it.

How tight are margin costs? Is there room for a fee hike are margins that thin?

Yea, if people had any idea!  I don't know why we do it sometimes but It’s a good life. We have to remember that ranching is a business. People think we’re out just riding our horses in the hills and sitting under a shade tree with a straw in our mouth, but we have to run the numbers all the time to make these things work out.

A slight fee increase cuts into your livelihood?

Oh, yea, big time, it really does. I’ve had this range going on 18 years. I use it in the spring and the fall a lot of times. So if you can see the grasses on the range they're dry right now. But the cattle we run are used to the climate and they do well on it.

What is Your message to the Idaho Department of Lands?

There are hidden costs that are not included in the formula that they should consider.  If grazing fees go up it would be harmful and hurtful to our business and hurt other ranchers. As a young guy with a wife and kids, an increase really hits our pocket book hard. With our margins as thin as they are, it might actually cause us to not be able to run on those permits anymore.

Cody Chandler urges fellow ranchers to go to the Idaho Farm Bureau web page in the Legislative/Advocacy section and send a comment to the Department of Lands at this link: