In front of assistant Utah A.G., Finicum actively recruited ranchers to defy feds
In November, Robert "LaVoy" Finicum appeared at a packed cattlemen association meeting at the Piute County Courthouse in central Utah, bearing a simple message for fellow ranchers and a prominent member of the Utah attorney general's office.
Tear up your federal contracts that spell out how many cattle you can stock, for what time periods, and how much forage must be left after each season. It's your land, and militiamen will be available to back you up in resisting efforts by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service to evict your cows.
Finicum, the Arizona rancher who was the voice of the Malheur occupation until his death Tuesday, said the more ranchers who stood up to federal agencies, the less able the government would be to act against them, according to an audio recording of the meeting in Junction.
Tony Rampton, who heads the A.G.'s public lands section, was invited to address the ranchers, long fed up with federal bureaucrats telling them what they can and can't do on their grazing allotments. He agreed federal policies are failing ranchers and endangering their livelihoods, but cautioned against pursuing an unlawful course.