Grazing Conference to Address ‘Uncertainty’ for Utah Ranchers

The Utah Farm Bureau and Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office are sponsoring a Livestock Grazing Rights Conference to address growing uncertainty facing Utah ranchers and rural communities.

The conference will be held February 18 at the Sevier Valley Center at Richfield campus of Snow College, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“The conference is being held in Richfield to allow the maximum number of livestock ranchers from across the state to attend and better understand their rights and obligations,” said Ron Gibson, President of the Utah Farm Bureau.

Utah Farm Bureau has become increasingly concerned with the growing level of uncertainty ranchers who utilize the federally managed public lands are facing. An analysis of grazing numbers indicate a systematic dismantling of livestock grazing since the 1950s.

“Nearly 75 percent of sheep and cattle grazing rights have been cut or suspended over the last half-century,” said Randy Parker, CEO of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation.

In a state where the federal government owns and controls 67 percent of the land, economically-viable family ranches have been established by combining private land and water with public grazing rights. Federal government claims to water rights, grazing cuts and restricted access have led to a 60 percent drop in family ranching businesses statewide since 1950. 

“There seems to be an effort by the federal land management agencies to redefine multiple use as mandated by Congress,” said Kathleen Clarke, Director of PLPCO and past Director of the Bureau of Land Management.

The conference will bring together congressional representatives as well as state and industry experts to help resolve conflicts and address increasing uncertainty. PLPCO, including the Utah Attorney General’s Office, will discuss legal rights associated with the federal livestock grazing preference.

The Division of Wildlife Resources will also look into state management of wildlife and federal overreach affecting grazing and hunting interests. Representatives of Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and Congressman Chris Stewart will talk about efforts underway to make sure federal agencies are not overreaching in managing livestock and their obligation to “Provide forage to sustain the local dependent livestock industry.”

Farm Bureau will discuss actions by federal agencies claiming Utah livestock water rights, including legislative remedies and documenting property rights and chain of title. Two panels, including the Utah Department of Agriculture & Food, USU Extension and Robert Stager, an environmental scientist and retired BLM land manager will discuss resources for proactive – not reactive – grazing management and documentation.

At the end of the day, attendees will have a better understanding of their grazing preference rights, water rights, and legal and financial resources available to them, as well as how to proactively deal with federal land management agencies.

There is no cost to attend the conference, which includes lunch, but those interested are encouraged to RSVP to Susan Furner ([email protected]). For more information about the conference, including an agenda, please visit