Cattle ranchers to feds: No you can’t

ReasonTV has done a video on a recent dispute on the part of Nevada cattle ranchers such as Eddyanne and Dan Filippini. The two are profiled in the below video fighting with the government to get their grazing rights back on land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The agency controls a total of 155 million acres of land in the US that is apportioned for cattle grazing that ranchers, like the Filippinis, depend on to feed their livestock.

During 2014 BLM revoked the couple’s grazing rights allegedly due to the land being too dry. This resulting from a drought which the agency’s Nevada branch head states has been going on for the past eight to ten years but has gotten worse in the last four. Ranchers, such as the Filippinis, think the BLM is using it as an excuse to grab hold of their business and they have good reason to think that.

I am not saying ranchers are entirely blameless either. In the beginning of April, environmentalists filed a lawsuit against the Bureau alleging the agency was neglectful in its obligation to track the effects of an endangered tortoise and other rare wildlife species in the California desert. It is alleged that the same tortoise listed as an endangered species is the identical variety in question in the dispute during April of last year involving Cliven Bundy’s cattle. Bundy’s cattle herds supposedly grazed in areas near the habitat of the same variety of tortoise.

Clive Bundy has made the ridiculous assertion that his Mormon ancestors owned the land the BLM claims in his dispute with them since the 1870’s. According to the Las Vegas Sun, Bundy has been fighting the BLM for unpaid grazing fees for the last twenty years. Bundy states he won’t pay. Bundy claims Nevada, not federal, law applies since he states that the land he in conflict with BLM is part of his state’s jurisdiction.

The actions taken against Cliven Bundy’s supporters by BLM agents last year were wrong but the Bundys have also been negligible with their obligation to pay grazing feeds that were paid by him up until 1993. His cattle was initially seized not only due to unpaid grazing fees but the BLM determined that Bundy didn’t have adequate space on his land to care for the amount of cattle he had. He was also ordered in 1998 by a federal judge to remove his livestock from federal land but Bundy refused to comply. It looks like his dispute with the BLM is based more on excuses and a lack of sense of responsibility. The worst part about it is that he played the role of the victim and suckered his friends and sympathizers to support him based on false premise. This is not to say that the federal government should own as much land as it does since the majority of federal lands are located in western states like Nevada.

Aside from Cliven Bundy’s deception, the Filipinis and other Nevada ranchers featured in the Reason video seem to have legitimate concerns and complaints.