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Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction Of The American West Paperback – August 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-1559639439 ISBN-10: 1559639431 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Whereas the effects of urban sprawl and clear-cut logging are readily apparent, the far-reaching and devastating consequences of large-scale livestock production are less obvious to the untrained eye. In this excellent overview of the ecological and economic consequences of ranching in the arid Western United States, natural historian and photographer Wuerthner and environmental activist Matteson present a collection of impassioned essays by scientists, conservationists, and economists. As writers like Edward Abbey, T.H. Watkins, and Carl Bock point out, livestock grazing has caused irreversible damage: it has degraded water quality, eroded the soil, introduced invasive plants, and endangered countless native plants and wildlife. Although the West accounts for less than three percent of U.S. meat production, livestock grazing occurs there on an enormous scale (a single cow uses one acre in Mississippi but 250 acres in Nevada). To provide enough space, three million acres of public land are being used by private ranchers with the help of government subsidies a consequence of the ranching industry's political power. This oversized book has 175 full-color photographs plus a resource directory and a bibliography. Although rather costly, it is highly recommended for both academic and public libraries and is particularly suitable for environmental and Western collections. Ilse Heidmann, Olympia, WA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Most Americans know little about the state of our precious public lands. The designations national park, national forest, and national wildlife refuge would seem to indicate that such places are free of industry, but in the arid West many are the province of large corporations. Following in the footsteps of Fatal Harvest [BKL My 15 02], a powerful inquiry into industrial agriculture, the contributors to this equally revelatory volume document in picture and word the dire ecological consequences of government-subsidized cattle grazing on 300 million acres of public land. Scientists from various fields, historians, economic and governmental policy experts, and earth-loving writers, including Edward Abbey, examine the cattle industry from an array of viewpoints, and explain how cattle ranching causes soil erosion, water pollution, the spread of invasive species, and an ever-increasing roster of endangered species, while photographs of cow-damaged versus livestock-free landscapes drive the message home. This eye-opening and discussion-starting volume should spark more conspicuous public debate (after all, "this land is your land") and a demand for the rescue of public lands. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Foundations for Deep Ecology 2; 1 edition (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559639431
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559639439
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 11.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,403,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. G. Carter on February 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
Welfare Ranching provides the data and insight into the public lands livestock industry that has long been needed. Here in the West the damage is seen on hundreds of millions of acres of our public lands. What is amazing is the lack of attention among our public officials at the tremendous cost of this outmoded practice. The lost soil, polluted streams and destroyed wildlife habitat have value in the billions of dollars on an annual basis that so far outweighs any possible economic benefit of livestock production, it is necessary for the public to become educated on this issue so they will pressure our lawmakers and public officials to make and enforce ecologically sound regulations and practices to restore this land. A final note, the soil loss and plant community losses are a loss in carbon storage - this is going to become a critical issue as we at last deal with greenhouse gases. Finally, let's not forget the history of the sheep and cattle industry in their efforts to have our public lands turned over to the States and then sold to ranchers for 10 cents an acre in the 1940's. This continues today with the farm and ranch lobby and their henchmen in congress who constantly are working to undermine environmental protections and have the land sold off to industry.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "hepplewhite" on December 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West. George Wuerthner and Mollie Matteson, Editors. 346 pp. Sausalito, California: Foundation for Deep Ecology, 2002. [$$$] paperback; [$$$] hardback.

At 12 x 13 inches, with beautiful and startling photographs, Welfare Ranching: the Subsidized Destruction of the American West deserves a prominent place on the environmentalist's coffee table. Don't expect a balanced view of the current issues, however; this book, a compilation of essays and articles, celebrates only the anti-livestock perspective in the conflict concerning cattle grazing on federal land in the West.
The book is divided into seven parts. I, II and III introduce readers to anti-grazing views and objectives. Part IV consists of ecological research reports. Parts V and VI offer essays about related subjects such as economics, nutrition, suburban sprawl and the use of grazing permits as collateral. A handful of solutions are reviewed in two essays in part VII, followed by "Our Vision," the editors' wrap-up.
The federal lands grazing conflict pits environmentalists against family ranchers and the cattle industry. Environmentalists, among whom the authors of this book count themselves, want an end to livestock grazing on federal land because it harms water, land and wildlife. And they object to leasing land to ranchers at prices below market value, which explains the book's title.
The ranchers' point of view is barely mentioned. Ranching has supported generations of families for close to one-hundred-fifty years. Food for livestock is sparse in the arid West so cattle need to roam over a wide area to find enough to eat. At the same time, ranchers must raise and sell a certain number of cattle each year to avoid debt.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Carol Rose on May 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Welfare Ranching is a beautiful book, full of full-color photos and articles by dozens of scientists and concerned biological conservationists regarding the destruction of the American West by cattle ranchers. Wuerthner and Matteson point out that there are 525 million acres of land in the Western United States which are used for livestock grazing. That only eleven percent of U.S. cattle producers are in the west, but their grazing area equals twenty-five percent of the total land area of the lower 48 United States and most of that is public land. These lands are often over-grazed, degraded, and denuded of plants. The water sources are manipulated by the ranchers to provide water for their livestock, thereby removing the water from access by native plants and wildlife. The introduction of livestock into the arid lands of the American west is like introducing an exotic species into a community. The livestock completely undermine and degrade the ecosystem and their presence is linked to the decline in native bird and vegetation populations. It has been noted that by raising domestic animals which demand large quantities of water and forage in a place that is dry, and by favoring slow-moving, heavy, and more or less defenseless livestock in terrain that is rugged, vast, and inhabited by native predators, ranchers have put themselves in a position of constant warfare with the land. Nearly all public lands [in the Western U.S.] that have any forage potential for livestock are leased for grazing. This includes 90% of Bureau of Land Management land, 69% of U.S. Forest Service land and a surprising number of wildlife refuges and national parks.Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kevin E. Black on September 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
Let me keep this simple and concise: I grew up in the rural culture. I grew up walking and hunting on cattle ranches for more miles than I could ever remember. I have family that own a cattle ranch in the west. It was precisely this life experiance that turned me against public lands ranching with the very strong wish that it will end during my life. Cattle are nothing less than vermin on the land, being the single reason why there are so many endangered fish, birds and mammals in the western U.S. If we wish to restore the land with health and vitality the cattle must be removed. There is plenty of proof that my words are true and accurate if a person wishes to seek out that information and this book is a good start. Look at the land that has had the cattle removed and you'll see land that is once again abundant with life. Google: Hart Mountain national antelope refuge. An area that had cattle removed years ago and is now thriving with wildlife and getting better each year without cattle.

The negative reviews of this book are simply by people that live this culture and don't want it to end. Understandable but highly mis-guided. The few cannot be allowed to destroy our nations, and worlds, natural heritage.

The cattle must go.
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