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Abstract

We build our economic models and estimate grazing policy impacts based on the standard economic model of profit maximization. Yet, over 30 years of research and observation has shown that, for many, consumptive and quality of life values are the most important reasons for the purchase of western ranches. Ranch buyers want an investment they can touch, feel and enjoy, and they have historically been willing to accept low returns from the livestock operation. Profit maximization appears to be an inadequate model for explaining rancher behavior; in estimating what impacts altered public land policies will have; and in de-scribing grazing land use and value. In this study, only 27% of the value of New Mexico ranches in the most productive rangeland areas was explained by livestock production potential. Economists and policy-makers must take the influences of both traditional livestock production and quality of life values into ac-count when determining appropriate policies for western rangelands.

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