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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

We are Waiting

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

People in agriculture business across the country are waiting with much concern over what climate change actions the Biden administration will come out with in the next few months. These concerns are justified, as the Biden administration hasn’t been very fair to the agriculture community during its time in office.

Agriculture has always been easy to pick on, and it’s not because those involved are doing a terrible job or hurting our planet. But, we all feel a little beat up lately, especially those of us who ranch on federal lands or raise beef. 

Those in the beef industry really have concerns – both globally and in the U.S. – that they will suffer terrible consequences from actions taken in the name of climate change.

Climate change and endangered species are the two main reasons given for many new restrictions. We don’t know exactly what or when restrictions will take place, but I would guess they would be comparable to the Bureau of Land Management’s Rock Springs Resource Management Plan (RMP) and will come out some time before the election.

Private lands rights and the right to use federal lands to graze livestock and for recreation are going to suffer. We all discovered with the Rock Springs RMP, one major issue and change was how decisions went from being based on private property rights to managing our public lands through government decisions.

While it cannot happen in Wyoming, placing more federal lands as a national monument or other designation could happen in other Western states.

Ray Starling, who served as chief of staff to former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, told a news source the lives of farmers and ranchers have become more difficult since Biden took office for a variety of reasons, including water policy, issues with the guest worker visa program and burdensome regulations, particularly with federal lands. 

All of these and more are putting the agriculture industry as a whole in peril.

Starling said, “I couldn’t start the conversation without starting with water and water policy. When we think about all of the different states around the country, water presents different challenges and different opportunities for different parts of the country, but at the end of the day, anybody involved in agriculture needs it – needs access to it and needs to be able to manage it.” 

“And, probably the biggest thing we’ve seen in the water space is this administration seems very determined to maximize the Environmental Protection Agency’s jurisdiction over land that has some kind of water on it,” Starling continued. 

There were legislation and programs authorized under the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which was signed into law on Dec. 29, 2022 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. 

So, you can see the foundation is laid for innovative climate-smart agriculture practices. The Biden administration says there will be opportunities for ranchers, farmers and forest landowners. We hope so, but time will tell.

When this administration talks of climate-smart practices and working lands conservation, I get a little nervous. So, we’ll wait and see what happens to water, federal lands, sage grouse and other endangered species and the effect of these new restrictions on our private lands.

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