The Utah Board of Business and Economic Development has decided to oppose two bills pending in Congress that would dramatically increase the fees for grazing livestock on public lands.

Although a formal resolution wasn't available for a vote, the board asked the Utah Division of Business and Economic Development staff to draft a resolution reflecting their views. They also decided to support two other bills that wouldn't be so restrictive and expensive to livestock operators.The decision came Tuesday following a presentation by Darwin Nielsen, a professor of agriculture economics at Utah State University, who said the two more restrictive bills have the potential of driving most livestock operators out of business because of the tremendous increase in fees for grazing on public land.

Nielsen said the livestock industry is a great concern to rural Utahns because there is a need for keeping viable agricultural industries. He said many people in the East don't understand the need for affordable livestock grazing on public lands.

By increasing the basic fee for public-land grazing, livestock operators will be paying millions of dollars more and that doesn't include transportation, Nielsen said. "If either of these bills passes, the livestock industry won't be able to survive," he said.

Once the resolution is drafted, it will be sent to Utah's congressional delegation.