Report: OST appraisers sought higher grazing rates

Two Office of Special Trustee appraisers say the trust relationship requires the federal government to "maximize" the return for Indian landowners, Agweek reports.

In a report prepared as part of a lawsuit over grazing rates, Geoff Oliver of OST in Rapid City and Robert Grijalva of OST in Phoenix said trust lands can't be compared with government or private lands. "It is a noble endeavor for the Government to apply to Government owned land - the subsidization of the livestock industry," the report stated, according to Agweek.

"It is wholly inappropriate, however, to force the Indian peoples to sacrifice their own best interest to that same cause," the report added. Doing so would amount to a "Government taking of Indian property rights without just compensation."

"If anything, the trust relationship places a greater onus on the United States to maximize the return to the Indian landowners, rather than apply the same rates as it uses on property owned by the United States," the report concluded, according to Agweek.

However, a rival report prepared by two North Dakota State University experts disagreed. They said OST's method of calculating the grazing rate was riddled with "a number of inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and questionable methodologies."

Instead, the report supported recommendations made by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and ranchers on the reservation. The ranchers filed a lawsuit, one of several in the Great Plains, that challenged OST's attempts to raise the grazing rate.

Get the Story:
Analyze this (Agweek 5/23)
Great rate wars (Agweek 5/23)

Relevant Links:
Office of Special Trustee -