Overview of the US Department of Interior with Agriculture

Rincker Law Food & Ag Law Leave a Comment

I’m currently conducting a blog series where each week I give a brief overview of the responsibilities of a government agency regulating our food and agriculture system.  I think it’s a helpful reminder for everyone on just how complex our regulatory system really is.  It’s a game of Who’s Who for government players in the U.S. food and agriculture economy.

I took this photograph in Montana at a cattle branding when I interned for the American Simmental Association

The U.S. Department of the Interior is a Cabinet-level agency, like the USDA, that also regulates the food and agriculture industry. Organizationally, there are five assistant secretaries managing the following bureaus:

Notably, the Branch of Agriculture and Rangeland Development within the Bureau of Indian Affairs assists with farm and range planning, rangeland improvements and protection, collection of inventory information on, pasture leases and grazing permits, and manages agriculture extension on our Indian reservations.

The Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) plays its most recognized role in the livestock industry with its issuance of livestock grazing permits on approximately 155 million acres of public lands in our western rangelands.  In way of history, Congress passed the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 during the era of homesteading in the West.  The Taylor Grazing Act created grazing districts for ranchers and regulated its use to prevent damage to the natural resources. The federal grazing program is available in 16 Western states and fees are calculated on an animal unit month (“AUM”).  Qualified ranchers must apply for a grazing permit to the BLM.

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