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Abstract

Policy analysis and planning requires that we know what the likely responses of affected parties to given policy changes. We conducted a random survey of ranchers holding 1998 public land grazing permits in all western states to determine the social and economic characteristics of permit holders, to assess their attitudes about public land policies, and to gauge their responses to three policies related to public land grazing. Respondents were asked how their operations would change due to three different levels of AUM reductions, three different grazing fee increases, and to changes in allowed season of use. The respondents were clustered into eight different types of ranchers using management objective, education, business organization, ranch size, labor, income, and financial aspects. Perceived ranching objectives included preserving family tradition, culture, and values; raising family in a rural setting; living closer to friends and family; earning a good return on investment; avoiding difficulty obtaining a job outside the ranch due to skills; protecting environmental resources; and planning to pass business on to children. Based on the clusters, different policy choices will have differential impacts depending on the type of rancher and individual management goals. Their responses to the various policy choices indicate that analysis using the refined clusters will lead to a different impact assessment compared to using average responses for the population.

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