November 16, 2011
U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, has introduced legislation to address the inefficient uses and management of public land through the federal grazing permit program:
The Rural Economic Vitalization Act of 2011 would:
- Save taxpayers up to $115 million each year by reducing the costs of public lands management.
- Attract private investments that will help stimulate rural economies.
- Provide federal grazing permit holders the option to exchange permits for market value compensation.
- Improve wildlife habitat and reduce environmental damage due to livestock grazing.
“The current federal grazing program is among the most economically inefficient uses of our public lands. My legislation opens the door for private solutions to a long-standing problem that costs taxpayers millions and has prevented public land ranchers from efficiently utilizing resources available to them.
“Many permit holders would choose to retire from public lands grazing if they could recoup their investment in their federal grazing permit. REVA provides a private market mechanism to do this. On a voluntary basis, current permit holders will have the option to relinquish their grazing permits in exchange for market value compensation paid by private parties.
“The Bureau of Land Management and the Forest service run an annual deficit administering grazing permits and managing private cattle grazing operations. My bill eliminates wasteful spending, gives ranchers the choice to retire permits, allows public lands to recover natural habitats and fosters the return of native plants and wildlife.”