Presented by James Honey,
November 15th, 2007
Landscape being managed primarily
for raising grazing livestock such as
cattle or sheep for the production of
meat, wool, leather, and other
Questions for Consideration
• What is the state of ranching in the West?
• What is happening to Western ranchlands?
• Who are today’s Western ranchers?
• Who will be “ranching” in the 21st century?
• What do we want to do about it?
• The Interior West is about 640
• Nearly 109 million acres are
• 300 million acres are public land.
• Approx. 85% of the Interior West’s
public lands are grazed for ranching.
• There are 3.2 million cattle raised
annually in the Interior West,
about 7% of the National total.
What’s Happening to
• Difficult economics
• Land conversion
In the past 30 years,
the population of
13 Western states
has risen by more than 47%.
That’s twice the growth rate of
the U.S. as a whole.
Economics of Ranching in the U.S.
• 80% of cattle is processed by four companies.
• 15% of feedlots feed 70% of cattle.
• Ranchers’ production costs are increasing
while consumers’ food costs are decreasing.
• Only 5% - 30% of ranch value can be
attributed to cattle production.
“Ranching is not efficient nor
competitive; the rancher is not a
rational economic actor.”
Conversion of U.S. Ranchlands
• Ranches change hands all the time,
they always have.
• Over the past decade there’s been a 1.6
million acre decrease in ranchlands per year.
• Of this 1.6 million acre decrease, 45% are
converted to urban types of use.
“You either have to be
rich or crazy to buy land
if you aren’t going to develop it.”
Traditional Western Ranchers
• Many are over 55 years old.
Many ranchers do not consider
profit to be the most important goal
in terms of why they ranch.
Tradition, values, culture,
generational inheritance, and
“a good place to raise a family”
top out for most.
quot;Amenity-rich areas are growing and likely to grow more over the next decade.quot;
Help Protect Our Western Heritage and Ranching Landscapes
- Support efforts to increase the profitability of ranching. Buy local beef, lamb and other
agricultural products. There is no ranchland without ranchers.
- Ranches produce a wide range of ecological goods and services. Support
conservation programs that compensate ranchers for growing wildlife habitat,
controlling the spread of noxious weeds and other ecosystem services.
- The ranchlands on this map are a limited regional resource. Promote efforts to
help reduce the loss of the most productive ranchlands in the Rockies at
the state and local levels. This analysis is the first step.
- Promote stabilizing the land base. Encourage public finance efforts that keep
ranchland in production. State and local purchase of development rights programs
such as the Montana Agricultural Heritage Program and the Gallatin County Open
Lands program are critical for maintaining working landscapes in the Rockies.
Population and Land Growth in the Rocky Mountain West: 1960–1990.
Land consumption data for Arizona and Nevada were unavailable.
• Link to Tanaka piece: http://agecon.uwyo.edu/WAEA/WEForum/WEF-Vol.4-No.2-Fall2005.pdf
• Also check this out…