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Know the West

Welfare kings

  Dear HCN,

If the administration and Congress want to reform the welfare program, they should not overlook ranchers that graze livestock on federal lands.

Some of the richest people in the United States are welfare ranchers: William Hewlett and David Packard, of Hewlett-Packard Co., the computer manufacturing giant, graze cattle on more than 94,000 acres of BLM land in Idaho.

The man receiving the biggest handout is probably J.R. Simplot, the Idaho potato king. He grazes thousands of cattle at welfare prices on federal lands in Idaho and Oregon. Will wealthy ranchers be dropped from the welfare system, or are "reformers' just talking about the little people, those that do not contribute to election campaigns? Taxpayers, stay tuned!

Bob Phillips

Portland, Oregon

The writer is Oregon coordinator of Rest The West.