Ranching Through Representation
By Kaitlynn Glover
As I drive to work each day, I see countless rolling reminders that people in Washington, D.C. still oppose the concept of “taxation without representation.” The phrase is included on every license plate on every vehicle registered in the district.
While the priorities vary between ranchers and D.C. urbanites, there’s a shared desire. People want to know their voice is heard – and someone is listening.
Federal grazing permittees and public land ranchers are a unique group, a small portion of cattle, sheep and wool industries play an outsized role in ensuring the viability of national industries. Their grazing management and range improvements keep millions of acres open, available, safe and healthy for many other uses, too. Their role is an incredibly important one, and for this reason, it’s critical their voice carries into the halls of Washington.
Permitees need someone dedicated solely to representing the rights, interests and perspectives that are unique to their operations. The Public Lands Council (PLC) fills this role.
PLC exists solely to represent ranchers who have grazing allotments on federal lands and provides freedom to focus on topics that are important to their constituents.
There is no shortage of things which affect public land ranching operations; from federal environmental regulations, to land designations, labor requirements and wildlife management, PLC covers them all. We have a strong set of policy committees to carry out our state-led policy process, a strong lobbying team to work with the federal government and a wide variety of communications platforms which allow us to share our message with an audience that ranges from a sixth-generation cattle producer to a recovering vegan.
So, what’s our message? Grazing is good.
Grazing is a core part of the western way of life, but it’s also key in ensuring healthy wildlife habitat, protecting the rangelands and forests from threats such as drought, fire and much more.
PLC educates and advocates on public land ranchers’ behalf in a variety of ways: With Congress, we work with individual members of the House and Senate on state-specific issues. We coordinate and provide testimony to Committees, like the recent testimony of Julie Ellingson, a North Dakota rancher and industry leader. There’s a long list of bills that never see the House or Senate floor because PLC opposes them. Equally, our support is pivotal in ensuring key bills have bipartisan support in these divided times.
We spend a great deal of time with agencies, as well. In the last year, PLC has authored and submitted more than 15 sets of comments on regulatory proposals dealing with the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act and more. In the year to come, we expect a reboot of sage grouse plans, Bureau of Land Management grazing regulations and a “waters of the United States” rewrite.
We reach thousands of people through social media, video campaigns and targeted press appearances. Each time, we share the message that the work ranchers do each day on the ground is crucial to our industry, our environment and our country.
What does all of that mean for ranchers? It means they can be confident they are ranching with representation. In every Congressional office, in every federal agency, with many partners across the country – rancher perspectives are well known.
Public land ranchers are not off the hook, though. No one can tell their story better than they can, but participating with the Wyoming Public Lands Coalition is the best way to ensure their voice is amplified at the state, regional and national level.
Ranchers will be hearing from their state coalition – they’ll soon be sending PLC informational materials and a request for voluntary contributions. I hope many join the world of PLC and help us in our work to ensure the western ranching industry stays strong in the decades to come. The world needs more public lands ranchers (and Cowboys – Go Pokes!).
Kaitlynn Glover is the executive director of the Public Lands Council. For more information, visit plc.org.