A higher grazing fee system established by Congress appears to be helpful to both taxpayers and stockmen, says Utah Farm Bureau Federation President Ken Ashby.

He said ranchers will pay about 20 percent more to graze livestock on federal land this year. Ashby said the fee increase isn't necessarily good news for livestock producers, but it's functioning as intended.The fee is set under a formula based on livestock production prices and production costs during the previous year. Ashby said when economic conditions are good for livestock production, the fee is higher. But when conditions aren't so good, the fee is reduced.

As a result, stockmen are protected when market prices are low, and taxpayers benefit when prices rebound and a stockman's ability to pay improves, Ashby noted.

Beginning March 1, the grazing fee will increase 32 cents on national forest and Bureau of Land Management holdings.

The current fee for forest service and BLM lands is $1.54 per animal unit month.