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Johanns Touts Obama in Grazing Rights-Senate Fight

By   /   June 14, 2012  /   9 Comments

Talk about strange political bedfellows.

But that is the latest chapter in the Fischer-Kerrey Senate fight over grazing rights.

State Sen. Deb Fischer’s friend and fellow Republican, Senator Mike Johanns, defended Fischer today touting a ruling—from of all places—the Obama Administration.

Fischer, a western Nebraska rancher, is under fire for benefitting financially from a government grazing rights deal.  

According to the Associated Press, Fischer’s ranch pays less than $5,000 annually to graze cattle on about 11,000 acres of federal land, far less than the approximately $117,000 that would have to be paid to a private landowner.

On Tuesday Democratic Senator Ben Nelson pushed to amend the Farm Bill and eliminate the provision which he calls a “subsidy” that goes to just two percent of the country’s ranchers.

On Wednesday Kerrey, who has voted on both sides of the issue, criticized Fischer arguing the country can “no longer afford these subsidies.”

Then late Wednesday Fischer’s campaign told Nebraska Watchdog that she will review Nelson’s amendment because Fischer ”strongly believes all possible spending cuts need to be on the table and that the funding of federal programs should be based on merit.”

Now enter former Secretary of Agriculture Johanns and some isolated praise for President Obama.

Johanns told Nebraska Watchdog today that the grazing measure is not a subsidy. “Having administered the program, that’s not right, that’s very misleading,” said Johanns who insists its not a government giveaway.

According to Johanns, just last year when five environmental groups asked the Obama Administration to raise the grazing rates, the administration said no.

“Now you even have the Obama Administration that has weighed in and said, ‘Look we examined this, we’re happy where we’re at,'”Johanns told Nebraska Watchdog.

Reported by Joe Jordan, joe@nebraskawatchdog.org

Editor’s note: to subscribe to News Updates from Nebraska Watchdog at no cost, click here





Joe formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • John

    Sometimes even a blind squirrel gets a nut. Obama did the right thing.

    Maybe Kerry should join the rest of his Leftist friends and become a vegetarian. But wait, didn’t his restaurants sell beef products? Hmmm, sounds a little like pandering to me but what the hell. He’s been cacooned in the big city for a long time now and has completely forgotten where his food comes from.

    Free grazing of federal land has been around for a long time. It’s not really “free” but if they jacked up the rates, the cost of that steak would go up. Then where woulkd those elitists who demand “grass fed beef” get their fill? They be stuck with corn fed like the rest of us.

  • i*Harper*Se

    Johanns told Nebraska Watchdog today that the grazing measure is not a subsidy. ”Having administered the program, that’s not right, that’s very misleading,” said Johanns who insists its not a government giveaway.

    Elsewhere, the Good Senator now calls it a “grazing plan.” Please.

    The Senator’s see-through semantics is just like when NELNET & Sallie Mae et al discovered that Americans were – accurately and rightly – putting the word “predatory” before student loans. Thus, NELNET became known across the country as predatory student loan lenders.

    What to do? Well, now NELNET is known as an “Education Finance” company.

    They’re still predators though; making money on Americans who cannot afford college; ergo, a predator by any other name is still a predator.

    And ChemLawn? When “chemicals” became a dirty word; ChemLawn simply became “TruGreen” although their product – which puts chemicals into the ground – remained the same.

    The list goes on. Now, after years of activists decrying the health consequences of high-fructose corn syrup, the manufacturers recently begged the FDA to let them call – the same exact product – “corn sugar.” The FDA said ‘no.’

    Senator, those opposed to this program don’t give a hoot whether you call “it” a subsidy, a loophole, an earmark, a Muppet, or a “grazing plan.” We know what “it” is; we get it. Do you?

    After Senator Johanns’ obsequious invitation to the banking scoundrel Jamie Dimon to come to Nebraska to do “business,” I guess it’s pretty clear where Senator Johanns’ loyalties lie: with Big Banking aka Big Ag/Big Pharma/Big College.

    But, OMG, Nebraska already has NELNET; do you actually think Nebraska needs more corrupt financial companies.

    But back to Senator Johanns extreme umbrage at the word “subsidy.”

    Whatever one wants to call “it,” Senator Johanns, is immaterial; the point is the “process” for getting “it” is currently unfair, and should be altered to reflect free market bidding procedures that you Republicans so love to champion.

    Seriously, what would Jesus say. About such hypocrisy.

  • Watching From Lincoln

    Thank you, I*Harper*Se. Corporate whores of a feather flock together.

  • lcox

    Why do you call NELNET predatory? You borrow the money.. you pay the money back with interest (lower interest than you can get other places). It’s rather basic.

  • TexasAnnie

    It is true that Johanns supports a variety of methods for bilking taxpayers to enhance corporate profitability i.e. he supports corporate welfare.

    But Johanns fixed, without unicameral intervention, the mess that Ben Nelson and the unicameral created in concert concerning special education (LB742, 1995). Thus I cannot bash Johanns. I believe he has a good heart and good intentions. Rather than fire shots at him, help him to reason through this seeming ethical deficit. (And help President Obama too!)

  • lcox

    I left a comment on NELNET here last night, but don’t see it today.

    Are you editing comments to support a specific side?

  • Ken Cole

    Not only does she graze her livestock on public lands for cheap, she gets subsidies. $156,385 in corn and livestock subsidies were paid to Sunnyslope Ranch.

    This is a common theme in Idaho, where our local politicians rage over government spending yet grab up as many subsidies as they can while cutting programs to help needy people.




  • Ken Cole

    Also, if she gets elected, it is illegal for a sitting senator or representative to have a federal grazing permit.

    The BLM grazing regulations prohibit a member of congress from entering into a contract with the federal government.

    § 4110.5 Interest of Member of


    Title 18 U.S.C. 431 through 433

    (1970) generally prohibits a

    Member of or Delegate to

    Congress from entering into any

    contract or agreement with the

    United States. Title 41 U.S.C.

    22 (1970) generally provides

    that in every contract or

    agreement to be made or entered

    into, or accepted by or on

    behalf of the United States,

    there shall be inserted an

    express condition that no Member

    of or Delegate to Congress shall

    be admitted to any share or part

    of such contract or agreement,

    or to any benefit to arise

    thereupon. The provisions of

    these laws are incorporated

    herein by reference and apply to

    all permits, leases, and

    agreements issued under these


  • Tom

    Nelnet is subsided by taxpayers. They have lied and stolen money from tax payers.

    Do some homework. The exist because of tax payers.