The left is in love with their favorite boogeymen- the Koch brothers. (yes, according to Webster the word bogeyman, or boogeyman, is spelled both ways)
So the State Land Board, which is led by Montana’s statewide elected officeholders (all Democrats), is looking at raising grazing fees for Montana ranchers. The list of Land Board members includes Democratic Gubernatorial hopeful Steve Bullock.
The fact that the Montana Stockgrowers Association would oppose a hike in fees is obvious to anyone in Montana. Leave it to the loony caretaker of “Left in the West” to pin it all on a Koch Brothers conspiracy.
According to their website, Koch Industries owns the Beaverhead Ranch in Montana, a winner of several environmental awards. (note to “Left in the West”- the Matador Ranch is in Texas)
The Matador Cattle Company, a division of Koch Agriculture Company, operates three ranches: Beaverhead near Yellowstone National Park in Montana, Spring Creek in the scenic Flint Hills of Kansas, and the historic Matador Ranch in Texas.
The Beaverhead Ranch in Montana is the winner of several major environmental awards, and in 2002 was the first ranch in the country to achieve Wildlife Habitat Council certification. It was recertified in 2010. Beaverhead was also honored by the Montana Preservation Alliance for maintaining the historical integrity of many of its ranch buildings, including this 1860s log barn.
This is the AP article that LiTW was actually referring to. Notice that there was no reference to the Koch brothers in the story. Here’s an excerpt:
The land board gave the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation the go-ahead to begin a multi-month review of the issue, which the agency said has not been done in about 10 years. The agency will come back with a formal proposal late in the year after holding public hearings.
The rates would affect about 4 million acres of state land – and nearly 5,000 ranchers who lease the land from the state. Agency director Mary Sexton said that every $1 increase in the average $6.50 price per animal unit currently charged would raise an extra $1 million a year for state coffers.
The response from the Montana Stockgrowers: why would you raise fees on a Montana industry during this economy?
Here’s an excerpt from the Stockgrowers blog:
“This proposal increases the cost of doing business in Montana,” said Jay Bodner, MSGA’s Natural Resource Director. “During the legislative session earlier in the year, both the governor and the legislative leadership made it clear they didn’t want to raise taxes or fees on anyone in these uncertain economic times. This proposal doesn’t fit with that position.”
“Some people argue that the current fees are too low compared to the cost of a private lease,” Bodner said. “However, state leases do not include fencing, water developments, weed control and other benefits offered by private leases. The Duffield study did not take this fact sufficiently into account.”
Not only do Montana ranchers contribute to Montana’s economy and tax base, which pays for state and federal lands, they also pay fees so their cows can eat grass. Maybe we should start charging user fees for the “Left in the West” crowd to let their fashion poodles urinate on those same public lands. I’m sure the Stockgrowers would be glad to see them not only take a hike, but pay for it too.