Meat Out for Mustangs: Week 3

Wild horses wander in the Sand Wash herd management area 45 miles west of Craig, Colo., in the Sand Wash Basin. Joe Amon, The Denver Post.
Wild horses wander in the Sand Wash herd management area 45 miles west of Craig, Colo., in the Sand Wash Basin. Joe Amon, The Denver Post.

MEAT OUT FOR MUSTANGS — We are hosting a “Meat Out for Mustangs” campaign the whole month of May.

The purpose of “Meat Out for Mustangs” is to catch the attention of those grazing livestock on public lands who are working to remove and wipe out the nation’s wild horses and burros.

Eat a Burger. Kill a Mustang?

U.S. wild horses and burros are protected by the Free-Roaming Wild Horses & Burro Act of 1971 (8 pp, pdf) and overseen by the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Program in conjunction with several other State and federal agencies.

The wild horses and burros free-roaming U.S. public lands have many antagonists but we will deal with the two most obvious for the purposes of this campaign.

First up of those seeking the removal and destruction of America’s wild horses and burros typically come from cattle ranching families who have leased public lands for generations to the degree they think they actually own the land. They loathe the idea of these wild equines sharing their lands with them and view them as an imposition on their perceived rights.  These cattle ranching families are deadly enough.

The second group is equally deadly. It is made up of billionaire ranchers who use their economic and political clout to get extensive use of public lands while promoting the removal and destruction of the wild horses and burros potentially giving them access to even more.

Ellen Cathryn Nash contributed a paper about this second group to the Fund for Horses called “Rolex Ranchers and the Living Legends” in 2005.

The subtitle to Nash’s paper states: “10% of BLM Land Lease Subsidy Recipients are Billionaires and Control 65% of all BLM Lands”.  65%! It is highly likely it is even more now. Here are a few of the billionaire welfare ranchers Ms. Nash listed:

Ted Turner
Baron Hilton
Mary Hewlett-Jaffey
JR Simplot
Hunt Oil Company of Dallas

Nash also points out how the U.S. taxpayer is subsidizing these groups of people.

“The Public Lands Ranching Organization reports that the federal grazing program operates at a loss, costing taxpayers at least $500,000,000 annually. This figure includes direct program costs and millions of dollars spent on emergency feed, drought and flood relief, and predator control to support or mitigate damage from public lands grazing.”

By the way the damage from public lands grazing is caused by the cattle, not the free-roaming wild horses and burros as is often falsely stated by their antagonists.

Ten years later Nash’s report, Vickery Eckhoff wrote an article entitled “Wild horses, federal grazing and America’s billionaire welfare ranchers“. The subtitle to Ms. Eckhoff’s report reads, “America’s .01 percent like the Kochs and the Hiltons are collecting massive subsidies from the federal government.”

Here is Eckhoff’s list of billionaire welfare ranchers:

David and Charles Koch (Koch Industries)
J.R. Simplot Corp.
Bruce McCaw (McCaw Cellular)
Barrick Gold
Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA)
W. Barron Hilton (Hilton Hotels)
Mary Hewlett-Jaffe (Hewlett-Packard)
James Barta (
T. Wright Dickinson
Stan Kroenke (Kroenke Group) & Ann Walton Kroenke (Walmart)
Family of Robert Earl Holding (Sinclair Oil and Hotels)
Ted Turner

Profits, Losses and Expenses

According to the USDA cattle ranching on public lands contributes a “substantial portion” to the U.S. beef market, however the official making this statement would not give us the numbers.

However much they are selling it is safe to conclude that everyone is making a tidy profit from the beef they sell at the expense of the taxpayer and the safety of the country’s wild horses.

In her article Eckoff also talks about the cost to the taxpayer and damage caused by welfare ranchers grazing their livestock on public lands:

“The .01 percenters are the nation’s biggest welfare ranchers, according to numerous environmental and policy groups; and it’s time they brought some attention to themselves and the federal grazing program they’re exploiting to the tune of an annual estimated one billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies while causing long-term damage to one of the public’s most treasured assets.”

It doesn’t end there for the taxpayer.

The federal government wastes millions of taxpayer dollars year after year on needless, dangerous, herd-destroying management tactics in order to serve the land up to welfare ranchers. Then they spend millions more stockpiling the same wild horses and do so while ludicrously complaining about the expense — as if it’s the horses’ fault.

Meat Out for Mustangs

Enough is enough. Let’s grab their attention if we can while there is still a chance of saving country’s remaining wild horses and burros.

Here’s how. Give give up meat or try a vegan diet. If you cannot give up meat altogether then give up beef — or any variation of the three for the month of May.  It is never too late to join this campaign. Start right now. Take the pledge today.

More to Come

Meat Out for Mustangs is so popular that you have been asking us if we will please continue it in some way when May is over. We are putting our heads together and come up with a plan, and will announce it at the end of the month. In the meantime, thank you and “meat out”.

Are you a vegan so think there’s nothing for you to do? One enterprising advocate got 14 people in her workplace to pledge: 2 giving up beef, 5 giving up meat and the remaining 7 experimenting with a vegan diet. And they aren’t all ladies either — 6 men and 8 women — and she reports they are all feeling great for it. Tell us how you are inspiring others via email or in comments.

Inspiring Words

— Arthur Ashe

Related Reading

Meat Out for Mustangs, Week 1 »
Meat Out for Mustangs, Week 2 »


Vegan recipes here on Tuesday’s Horse »
Vegan recipes on our Pinterest page »

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