GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) -- Montana ranchers are speaking out against a proposed increase in grazing fees for state lands.

A study done for the Montana Land Board found the state was charging far less for grazing fees than private landowners. The board proposed increasing the fee to as much as $12.88 per animal unit month, or the amount of forage needed by a cow and her calf for a month.

The Great Falls Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/qW0zA3 ) ranchers argued Tuesday that they have more expenses when leasing state grazing lands, including providing water and fencing. The meeting was one of four at which the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is taking public comment.

Kevin Chappell, chief of the DNRC's Agriculture and Grazing Bureau, says the proposed increase does consider the extra costs of leasing state lands.

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Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com

Copyright 2011 The AP.

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