Utah Ranchers: Feds Putting Us Out of Business

The Guardian profiles a group of Utah ranchers who say new federal grazing restrictions are making it impossible for families to sustain ranches passed down through generations.

Reports Sam Levin:

On 23 January, a group of Utah ranchers gathered in Cedar City and made a pledge: they signed notices of “withdrawal of consent” to be governed – a statement rejecting the authority of the federal agencies that regulate grazing and charge fees to have livestock use public lands.

 

The ranchers were following in the footsteps of Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum, who at the time was a leader of a land-use protest at an Oregon wildlife refuge and who had publicly refused to pay for grazing rights.

 

Then on 26 January, state troopers in Oregon shot and killed Finicum during an attempted arrest, and two weeks after that, federal authorities detained and charged Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who led an armed standoff at his property in 2014.

 

The aggressive prosecution of the unofficial leaders of the land-use rights movement in the west appeared to be the government’s way of sending a clear message that authorities would not tolerate these types of protests.

 

But in remote desert ranges of Utah, ranchers say they remain committed to finding a way to stand up to what they see as federal overreach and mistreatment – even if the most vocal activists leading the charge are now dead or behind bars.