Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Cornhusker Economics (June 2012)


Published by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics. Copyright © [2012] Board of Regents, University of Nebraska.


The federal government owns nearly 30 percent of the land area in the United States. The vast majority of this land lies in the western U.S. For example, 81 percent of Nevada’s, 63 percent of Utah’s, 61 percent of Idaho’s and 48 percent of Wyoming’s land mass is owned by the federal government. In contrast, 1.10 percent of Nebraska’s land mass is under federal ownership.

Most of the public lands in the western U.S. are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) or Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and many are utilized for livestock grazing. Fees for grazing public lands were first assessed in 1906 by the USFS, and in 1936 by the BLM. With the current discussion of a new Farm Bill, the equity of the federal grazing fee is again being discussed.