Oregon Cattleman to Congress: Livestock Producers Serve as Conservation Allies
WASHINGTON (March 12, 2019) – Today Oregon cattleman Rodger Huffman told a Congressional hearing that livestock producers across the country serve as stewards of the environment and allies in conservation. Despite the efforts of some in Congress to vilify livestock producers, effective wildlife conservation depends on strengthening the partnership between government agencies and ranchers. In fact, livestock producers maintain over 660 million acres of open spaces and landscapes, about a third of the U.S. landmass and home to many species of wildlife.
“Federal and state wildlife managers have no greater ally in the effort to conserve America’s species than ranchers,” Huffman said in prepared testimony. “Ranchers steward these landscapes for generations – in most cases spanning centuries – and provide a myriad of benefits to wildlife from the iconic big game species to migratory birds.”
Without stable ranching operations, wildlife and rural communities suffer. For example, urban development and wildfire pose grave threats to sensitive species like the Greater Sage-grouse. Keeping working ranch land intact helps maintain open space that Greater-sage grouse need to survive. Meanwhile, early and late season grazing helps to reduce the buildup of invasive grasses that fuel devastating wildfires, which threaten the bird and rural residents alike.
Unfortunately, many federal regulations crafted by personnel in Washington, D.C. are not responsive to the unique conservation needs of local landscapes. Furthermore, top-down mandates undermine the public-private conservation partnerships that wildlife and rural communities depend on.
“A partnership only works if it benefits both parties involved and there is mutual respect,” Huffman said. “It is critical that conservation plans work for both the landowner and the species involved because the alternative is far worse for the wildlife.”