It's so great to see the issue of welfare ranching gaining traction in political circles, and hopefully it will provoke some action on amendments to increase the federal lands grazing fee.
Because, really, $1.35 a month per cow/calf pair? Way not enough.
But here's one thing to consider: using the adjective "Welfare" as a derogatory plays right into the hands of the haters. "Welfare Ranchers," "Welfare Queens." "Welfare Moms" too? By stigmatizing government assistance without somehow qualifying that ranchers are abusing the system by taking something they don't deserve, we risk entrenching the idea that welfare on the whole is bad. It isn't. It's absolutely necessary for millions of folks who live close to the bone, have trouble making ends meet, or can't feed their families. It's a critical function of government to provide services for those in need.
But public lands ranchers don't count. These folks get money if it's too wet, too dry, if they need new fences, new wells, new boots. (Ok, kidding about the boots.) The ranchers are already extremely privileged to have grazing leases and businesses in the first place; lots of ranchers also have huge tracts of private land and valuable water rights at their disposal. That's REALLY different from the folks who need food stamps. It just is.
So let's figure out a way to distinguish good welfare from bad welfare when we talk about it in the context of public lands ranching.