The end of ranching in California

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The Ranching life in California is slowly coming to an end because of the expenses in this state. 

One of my good friends’ families had to sell their California ranch because it was becoming too 

costly to operate here: the price for feed was going up, and transporting livestock was hard. Many ranches in California have been forced to close or move. There are 77,000 ranches in California as of now, but around 6 years ago there were over 100,000 of them.

Some of the most popular ranches that people may know of are the 6666 Ranch, King Ranch or Stallion Ranch. These ranches are world renowned for raising great cattle or horses, and each have branches in California.

These ranches make big money: the 6666 ranch is worth over 320 million, and brings in $400,000-$500,000 per year. There were ranches in California who brought in that same revenue, but because of expenses they only bring half that now.

In California, ranchers are being forced to close or sell because it’s too expensive to operate here in this state. With the drought in the West, it is becoming harder for ranchers to water their land and cattle. Making sure your land and cattle have the water they need is very important because your land is what feeds the cattle, and dead grassland won’t feed the cattle.

One of the ranchers who was forced to close was a family friend of mine, and they closed because the state was taxing their land higher than it should have been. They chose to remain anonymous for this interview. This rancher stated, ”It’s really sad that we had to sell our ranch because of the expenses of California. We owned that ranch for 45 years. My kids grew up on that ranch and it was their home…It was a way of our life and we were forced to move it.” When talking with this rancher, I could see he was becoming visibly upset because of the closing of his ranch. It’s sad what the California regulatory system causes to happen to family owned places because the government wasn’t getting enough money from them.

Ranchers used to own over 100 million acres of land in California and now it’s down to 38 million due to them being sold to the government, which turned these lands into new sections of the Fort Apache reservation, and the Navajo Reservation. As many see it, hundreds of years ago the government stole native land and then turned it into ranches. Today, the state is stealing it back and turning it into native land. In the coming years, it’s predicted that ranching in California will continue to slowly diminish. Ranching in this state only pays cattlemen around 25-30k a year. Revenue used to be much higher but now it’s close to nothing due to the expenses in California. Without the correct pay, cattlemen aren’t fond of doing a low paying job anymore, causing them to quit and leaving cattle to fend for themselves. This does not allow us to get the beef or milk we want. This also includes farm land used for crops, and for chickens and pigs. Their land being gone leaves us to rely solely on other surrounding states’ farms and ranches.

Tavin Montoya is a 2023 Washington High School senior. He grew up in Fremont, California but spent most of his time in Sonora on his grandfather's property. This will be his first year on the paper. Some of his journalistic interests are what seniors are up to, what the religious life in Fremont is like, or the political state of our country. Some of his hobbies are riding dirtbikes, being up in the mountains, or anything that allows him to get dirty. He currently works from time to time helping his dad at his daycare. Tavin plans to either go into carpentry or law enforcement.

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