Ranchers are commercial range livestock producers. In addition to a market-orientation, ranchers have exclusive, divided access to land (whether privately owned or leased); in contrast, pastoralists—who may be subsistence and/or market producers—share access to land and regulate use through mechanisms other than private property and contract. Many ranchers are found in the western United States, in Australia and New Zealand (known there as graziers), in the Iberian peninsula and parts of South America (known as ganaderos in Spanish), and in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Ranchers in North America rose to prominence just as the earlier rural American ideal—the Jeffersonian farmer—was foundering on the arid and semiarid areas of the interior West. Periodic droughts and economic crises from the 1890s to the 1930s squeezed out thousands of ...

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