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Legislative History

Relevant legislative history on grazing issues:

Taylor Grazing Act. The Taylor Grazing Act was signed into law by President Roosevevlt in 1935. It ended open grazing on public rangelands and established the Division of Grazing in the Department of Interior to regulate entry and practices on around 80 million acres of previously unreserved federal lands (excluding Alaska).


Granger Thye Act. In 1950 Congress passed the Granger-Thye Act, which allowed for a certain  portion of grazing fees collected on the national forest allotments to be directed to be used for range improvements on those same forests where the fees were collected.  The improvements can include revegetation, fence construction and maintenance, eradication of noxious weeds, etc.


Federal Land Management and Policy Act (FLPMA) - CFR 43. FLPMA governs the way in which the public lands administered by the BLM are managed. The law, enacted in 1976, stated that federal land should remain under federal ownership and established a regulatory system for the BLM to manage federal lands. FLPMA requires the BLM to develop comprehensive land-use planning to guide their management efforts, and this includes important aspects of grazing management. 


National Forest Management Act (NFMA)NFMA, passed in 1976, was designed to counter damage to natural ecosystems on public lands. The act put in place a system for forest management following several debates over the legality of clear-cutting forests. NFMA requires the USFS to develop comprehensive land-use planning to guide their management efforts, and this includes important aspects of grazing management. 


Public Rangelands Improvement ActPRIA, passed in 1978, defined the current grazing fee formula and established rangeland monitoring and inventory procedures for BLM and USFS rangelands. Of note is that the National Grasslands are exempt from PRIA.


H.R. 643 - To raise grazing fees on public lands, and for other purposes. Introduced by Representatives  Synar and Regula in 1993, this bill, which was not passed  into law, would have raised the federal grazing fee to be in  line with fair market value.


  1. R. 1602 - The Public Rangeland Grazing Reform Act of 1993. Introduced by Representatives Vento and Darden in 1993, H.R. 1602 also would have raised the federal grazing fee to be in  line with fair market value, as well directing that all  fees collected from federal grazing  permits only be used for restoration and enhancement of  fish and wildlife habitat, for restoration and improved  management of riparian areas, and for implementation  and enforcement of applicable land management plans, allotment plans, and regulations regarding the use of such lands for domestic livestock grazing. Moreover, H.R 1602 would have allowed federal grazing  allotments to be placed in non-use status for conservation purposes for at least two years. Unfortunately H.R. 1602 was never passed.


S.896 - The Rangelands Restoration Act of 1993.  Introduced by Senators Metzenbaum and Jeffords, S.896 would have amended FLPMA to require that the federal grazing fee be based on the private grazing land lease rate established by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the Dept. of Agriculture for the 6 pricing areas in the 16 contiguous Western States. S.896 would have also required,   for each livestock grazing year, that the receipts from livestock grazing fees would, at a minimum, cover the costs to the Federal Government of administering livestock grazing activities, including the costs of annual monitoring of the allotment to ensure compliance with the terms of the Stewardship Incentive Program.   This new program, which would also have  been  established by S.896,  would have provided for stewardship incentive credits against livestock grazing fees for permit holders who maintain ecologically healthy rangelands, as demonstrated through monitoring.  In addition, S.896 would have qualified that only permittees who are not participating in any animal damage control program could be a part of the Stewardship Incentive Program. S.896 would have also required that fees collected from grazing  permits only be used for the restoration and enhancement of fish and wildlife habitats, the restoration and improved management of riparian areas, and the implementation and enforcement of allotment management plans. Congress did not pass S.896.


H.R 676  - The Free Market Grazing Fees Act. Introduced by Representative Nadler in 1995, H.R. 676 was yet another unsuccessful attempt to establish federal grazing fees at fair market value.  H.R 676 attempted to be more specific than past bills, such as requiring that Congress take into account the amounts and conditions under which neighboring non-Federal lands are leased or sold for grazing purposes when the new fee was to be  determined.   H.R 676 also attempted to set a sliding scale for the new fee, so that if a rancher made the improvements on the allotment, that could reduce the fee for that allotment. In  addition, H.R 676 meant to exclude small family ranches with public land grazing permits from the fee increase.  After H.R. 676 did not pass, Rep. Nadler reintroduced this bill in 1997, now H.R. 547.  It failed to pass yet again.


H.R 1829 - To establish a formula for the calculation of livestock grazing fees.  Introduced by Representative Furse in 1997, this was yet one more, unsuccessful attempt to adjust the federal grazing fee, which obviously by this time many legislators agreed was too low.  This time the attempt was made to establish a formula to adjust the fee that could be used each year.  In addition, H.R 1829 would have abolished the old Grazing Advisory Boards and replaced them with new Grazing Advisory Councils. It also failed to pass. 


H.R 1888 - Corporate Welfare Elimination Act of 2001. While this was a large and comprehensive bill focused on tax reform, tucked in towards the end of the bill was yet again another attempt to establish an annual domestic livestock grazing fee equal to fair market value. H.R 1888 included the same formula to set the fee which appeared in H.R. 1829, 14 years earlier. H.R 1888 also meant to abolish the Emergency Livestock Feed Assistance Program (title VI of the Agricultural Act of 1949; 7 U.S.C. 21 1471–1471j). Like all the other attempts before it, this bill did not pass.


NDAA 2015 Rider - P.L. 113-291 (Section 3023). BLM livestock grazing permits are now essentially exempt from NEPA, thanks to a rider on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015, which amended Section 402(c)(2) of FLPMA. Because of this rider, now when a Field Office (FO) is “unable” to complete the requirements of NEPA and other applicable laws prior to the expiration of a grazing permit, it must continue the terms and conditions of the expired permit by issuing a new permit with the same terms and conditions.  What we have seen with this since 2015 is that FO’s have great latitude to claim “unable to complete NEPA requirements” and basically rubber stamp allotment permit renewals.  This also means that the Field Office can more easily ignore or postpone needed Rangeland Health assessments.  Worse, the rider dictates that these nondiscretionary permits issued in accordance with Section 402(c)(2 of FLPMA are not protestable or appealable.

Explore more of our Congressional Toolkit:

Toolkit Home

Go back to the homepage of the toolkit to continue learning more about how congress can help solve these problems

Grazing Problems

The current problems associated with livestock grazing on public lands

Regulations and Guidance

BLM and USFS internal regulations, handbooks and guidance on how to manage grazing on their lands

Ecological Science

A brief overview of the published science that demonstrates the ecological effects of livestock grazing

How Congress Can Help

What Congress can do to address the current problems with public land livestock grazing

GAO Reports

A collection of GAO reports that have addressed some of these issues