Public Lands Grazing Fee Moratorium Statement on Signing H.R. 9757 Into Law.
Today I am signing into law H.R. 9757, the grazing fee moratorium of 1978. This legislation places a 1-year moratorium on increases in grazing fees on public lands in order to allow Congress more time to study recommendations by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture.
For many years, fees charged for the privilege of grazing livestock on the Nation's public lands have been below those charged for the use of comparable private lands. However, in section 102(a) (9) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, the Congress clearly stated its intention that "the United States receive fair market value for the use of the public lands and their resources."
The act directed the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to submit to the Congress their recommendations for establishing grazing fees on public lands in 11 western States. Those recommendations, based on a year-long study involving extensive public participation, called for fees to be set at fair market value as determined by current land rental rates for comparable private lands. Present rates would be increased at a maximum rate of 25 percent annually to reach fair market value. Thereafter, annual adjustments would be limited to 12 percent. Under these proposals, individual operators will pay an additional $60 per year or less on average.
I strongly believe that the administration recommendations will result in a fee structure that is fair to both livestock operators and the United States. However, I am also aware of the importance of the fee structure to our livestock industry.
I am aware that the Congress is now seriously considering two bills, H.R. 10587 and S. 2475, which, among other things, would mandate a new grazing fee formula based in part on the price of beef and its cost of production. The Departments of the Interior and Agriculture have strongly opposed any formula which is not based on fees charged on comparable private lands. While I am signing H.R. 9757 to allow the Congress more time to review the administration's grazing fee recommendations, I expect that Congress and its committees will honor the principle of a fair return from the use of natural resources by commercial interests. I remain opposed to legislation which does not provide a fair return to the United States for the use of public resources. I believe it is unfair to provide a special subsidy at the public's expense to those 5 percent of all livestock operators who use public lands, while the vast majority of operators use private lands at much greater expense.
I urge the Congress to approve the administration's grazing fee recommendations and support their implementation for the 1979 grazing year.
Note: As enacted, H.R. 9757 is Public Law 95-321, approved July 21.
Jimmy Carter, Public Lands Grazing Fee Moratorium Statement on Signing H.R. 9757 Into Law. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248013