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Testifying for ranchers

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Washington, D.C. – On Feb. 7, Wyoming rancher and Public Lands Council Secretary/Treasurer Niels Hansen testified during the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works meeting on the “Impact of Federal Environmental Regulations and Policies on American Farming and Ranching Communities,” and he emphasized, “We need to get the ranchers’ position out in front of the Senators. There are too many people who don’t understand the West – and especially Wyoming range ranching.”

Coming to Washington, D.C. to testify is usually a positive experience that provides a learning opportunity, said Hansen, who added, “It’s good for ranches and their families to come back and provide Congressmen with a perspective on how policy affects our families on the ground.”

Hansen, a third-generation rancher, has extensive experience advocating for public lands ranchers and has been recognized for his efforts to work collaboratively and implement  successful stewardship measures on his operation.   


In his testimony, Hansen emphasized the hurdles farmers and ranchers face as a result of burdensome federal regulations. 

“The 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule continues to be a top concern for cattle producers as long as it remains on the books,” said Hansen, also commending the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to delay the rule. “As a livestock producer, the 2015 WOTUS rule has the potential to negatively affect every aspect of my operation by placing the regulation of every tributary, stream, pond and dry streambed in the hands of the federal government, rather the states and localities that understand Wyoming’s unique water issues.”

The Endangered Species Act was cited by Hansen as a broken piece of legislation that is the tool of radical environmental groups against the agriculture industry. 

“Years of abusive litigation by radical environmental groups have taken a toll, and the result is a system badly in need of modernization,” he said “Cattle producers throughout the country continue to suffer the brunt of regulatory and economic uncertainty due to the abuse of the Endangered Species Act.”

Additionally, Hansen cited rules like the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure rule, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) reporting and the Migratory Bird Act as examples of Congressional action that has “crippling” impacts on the livestock industry. 


While he pointed to a number of challenges, Hansen also mentioned several tools that are critical to improving the ability of farmers and ranchers to operate and thrive. 

Hansen said Congress must take action to ensure laws like the Equal Access to Justice Act and Endangered Species Act Judgement Fund are utilized as they were intended. 

“A big point I’d also like as a take-away from this hearing is that voluntary conservation really works for ranchers in the environment,” he said. “A one-size-fits-all approach that accompanies top-down regulation does not work in my industry. Mandatory rules and requirements make it harder for ranchers to utilize the unique conservation practices that help their individual operations thrive.”Further, he called ranchers “the single greatest opportunity for real conservation benefit in the country, and I conclude today with a plea on behalf of cattle and sheep producers across the country.” 

Hansen called on the Senators to remove burdensome regulations and allow ranchers and farmers to operate in the best way they know how. 

“By freeing our industry from overly burdensome federal regulations and allowing us to provide the kind of stewardship and ecosystem services only we can, you will do more for healthy ecosystems and environments than top down restrictions from Washington ever can,” Hansen said.

On the Hill 

In addition to testifying, Hansen noted he also had the opportunity to visit with Wyoming Congressman Liz Cheney (R) and Sen. John Barrasso (R), several agency heads and the staff members for several Congressional committees.

“It’s important we make sure agency personnel and staff people for the House and Senate committees are on board and understand our position on important policy issues,” Hansen commented.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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