Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act (VGPRA) in the House last week. The voluntary retirement of grazing permits authorized by the VGPRA would provide grazing permit holders the option to voluntarily waive their permits to graze on federal lands in exchange for market value compensation paid by private parties. The federal agency would then be directed to retire the associated grazing allotment from further grazing activity.
“This is a common-sense solution to provide for smarter management of our public lands to the benefit of the environment, wildlife, and ranchers,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Voluntary grazing permit retirement has proven to be an effective mechanism for reducing conflicts on public lands. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act will ensure this option is available to ranchers across all the Western states.”
The Western Watersheds Project says this new bill will authorize new grazing permit retirements, and will also protect those that have already been bought out but are now threatened with being re-opened to livestock grazing.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and Public Lands Council (PLC) came out in opposition to the bill.
“Grazing is an essential and irreplaceable tool for federal land managers,” said fifth-generation Oregon rancher and PLC President Bob Skinner. “Depriving them of this tool—the oldest of the multiple-uses—in order to placate the unfounded demands of radical environmentalists would be detrimental to the overall health of these landscapes and is entirely inconsistent with the original intent of both the Taylor Grazing Act and the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act.”
“This legislation proves exactly why NCBA and PLC’s ‘Value of Grazing’ media campaign was so important,” added Tennessee cattle producer and NCBA President Jennifer Houston. “From fire mitigation to carbon sequestration, livestock grazing is necessary for healthy grasslands and soil.”
The bill has 10 co-sponsors and was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Office of Washington Congressman Adam Smith, District 9
Western Watersheds Project
Public Lands Council
Northern Ag Network