It’s perversely ironic for rancher Cliven Bundy to excoriate poor people for collecting government subsidies, while ripping off the federal government of $1 million in grazing fees. But, even if he were to pay up, Bundy and his fellow ranchers would still be living on government welfare.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, livestock grazing is subsidized by federal agencies on public land in 11 western states to the tune of nearly $300 million annually. Monthly grazing fees per cow and calf on private rangeland average $11.90, but corresponding fees on federal lands are set at a paltry $1.35.
Even so, grazing subsidies are dwarfed by other government subsidies and the medical, environmental and other external costs imposed on society by animal agriculture. These extra costs have been estimated at $414 billion annually, or $3,600 per household.
Each of us can make our $3,600 annual contribution to the common good by replacing animal products in our diet with the rich variety of grain-, nut- and soy-based meat and dairy alternatives in our neighborhood supermarket.