Current Issue

Study Shows Ranching as Top Economic Producer

Jul 26, 2015 | Farmers and Ranchers | 0 comments

Kane County, Utah contracted with economist Gil Miller to determine where the ranching industry ranked in its contribution to the local economy. The conclusions were astonishing and not at all what land management agencies have represented.

Kane County is coordinating with the Bureau of Land Management on the Livestock Grazing Amendment for the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Since its creation in 1998, the number of cattle grazing in the Monument has dropped from 106,000 aum’s (animal units per month) to 32,000 aum’s.

Environmentalists and the land management agencies have held that tourism and recreation will replace the ranching dollar, holding that local governments like counties will feel no significant impact.

Kane County decided to fund a study to get hard numbers. What they learned is that the multiplier effect of ranching in Kane County is 46% higher than any other industry in the county. That includes tourism, mining, and oil and gas.

Here is why. The ranchers tend to spend the majority of their dollars in their county, such as for fuel, food, supplies, and equipment. So there is very little leakage. They also require limited public services. In fact, they provide many of the public services themselves. They help maintain the rural roads that tourists use and counties own. They are the volunteer firemen, the search and rescue teams, and deputies as called upon by the county. They volunteer at schools, hospitals and other public services. The fact is that when you remove the rancher from the community, you have lost a lot more than just the revenue. You’ve lost the people that hold the community together.

Miller’s study is enlightening, and can be used as a model in similar counties across the west that are dominated by federal and state lands. It is also a good reminder of how important it is for communities to protect their ranching culture. Not only are ranchers the best stewards of the range and important economic engines, but they are also the quiet hero’s that step up when needed by friends and strangers alike.