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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SEMIARID RANGELAND ECOSYSTEMS: THE CONSERVATION-PRODUCTION INTERFACE

Location: Rangeland Resources Research

Title: Cross-fencing on private US rangelands: Financial costs and producer risks

Authors
item Bracey-Knight, Kevin -
item Toombs, Theodore -
item Derner, Justin

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 18, 2011
Publication Date: April 1, 2011
Citation: Bracey-Knight, K., Toombs, T.P., Derner, J.D. 2011. Cross-fencing on private US rangelands: Financial costs and producer risks. Rangelands. 33(2):41-44.

Interpretive Summary: One of the common practices used on rangelands for management is the addition of cross-fences to provide management flexibility, intensify management, and reduce spot grazing through more uniform use of the pasture. The addition of extra fence though results in initial costs (materials and installation) and longer-term costs associated with maintenance of the cross-fences. Some of the initial costs can be offset through financial incentives, but the longer-term costs are the responsibility of the land manager. This paper evaluates these longer-term costs and demonstrates that these longer-term maintenance costs enhance financial risk to the land manager, which can lead to higher stocking rates to increase economic returns per unit land area. However, this change in management may compromise the ability of these lands to produce goods and services for the general public.

Technical Abstract: Addition of cross-fencing to a ranch can increase flexibility in management, facilitate intensification of grazing management and achieve more uniform livestock distribution. Initial costs of installation and longer-term costs associated with maintenance of this fence, however, may influence profitability. Financial assistance can be obtained for cross-fencing through the US Farm Bill, with the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). We used a case example of a 10,240 acre ranch that was either fenced as single pasture or subdivided into 16, 640 acre pastures to calculate projected installation and maintenance costs of the associated fence over a 20-year period, with and without the federal financial assistance. Although initial costs of construction and materials for cross-fencing can be partially offset with federal financial assistance, maintenance costs are a continuing burden for the producer and addition of cross-fencing can lead to long-term increases in debt. Thus, financial assistance for fencing may inadvertently increase producer financial risk by increasing long-term overhead costs and potentially encouraging higher stocking rates to increase economic returns which may compromise the ability of these lands to produce a suite of ecosystem goods and services desired by the general public.

Last Modified: 9/23/2014
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