Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Tucson, Arizona » SWRC » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #99354


item RUYLE, G
item HADLEY, D
item Heilman, Philip - Phil
item KING, D

Submitted to: Ecological Cultural and Socio-Economic Aspects of Livestock Management in
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Ranching in Arizona is under economic pressure and public scrutiny as never before. A number of long-term trends are reducing the number of cattle in Arizona. As urbanization continues and the share of Arizona's economy in ranching drops, ranching is losing political influence. At the same time, many ranchers can continue ranching only by seeking work off the ranch. Constraints posed by the dependence of Arizona ranches on public and state lands and the need to follow environmental regulations exacerbate these problems. On the other hand, ranchers feel strong ties to the land and the ranching lifestyle. There is much evidence that ranchers are willing to accept lower incomes than could be obtained elsewhere in order to live a ranching lifestyle. Research needs on ranching in Arizona include biological and socio-economic issues, the possibility of longer-term weather forecasting and in particular the science basis for regulatory decision making. Ranching will continue in Arizona. Range livestock production is currently the single most important agricultural industry in Arizona. Other considerations, reflecting social priorities, are likely to determine at what level ranching will continue in the state.

Technical Abstract: Although ranching is the most widespread landuse and the largest agricultural industry in Arizona, its long term viability is questionable. Almost all ranches in Arizona contain at least some public land and ranching is under pressure from increasing regulations in addition to low prices and competition for other land uses. Ranch size, ecological resources and tenure relationships differentiate ranches, even from close neighbors. Many Arizona ranchers have a difficult time earning enough to support a family, particularly smaller ranchers, most of whom must work off the farm. There are a number of reasons ranchers continue even though they could probably earn more elsewhere, including rural values and a preference for the consumption benefits of a ranching lifestyle. This desire to stay in ranching in spite of economic problems makes it likely that ranching in Arizona will continue to be a major land use. Future research needs include ebiological issues related to sustainability, socio-economic issues, the possibility of longer-term weather forecasting and the science basis for regulatory decision making.