Congressman Adam Smith reintroduced the Rural Economic Vitalization Act (REVA), a bill that would address the wasteful, environmentally damaging, and economically inefficient federal grazing policy on our public lands. This legislation would change federal law to allow ranchers with grazing permits to voluntarily relinquish their permits to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service in exchange for private market compensation. It would further allow the BLM and U.S. Forest Service to permanently retire the grazing permit.
“Our current federal grazing policy is inefficient, wasteful, and must be addressed,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “By allowing ranchers with grazing permits to voluntarily relinquish their permits, this legislation is a win for all involved as it saves the American taxpayer money, gives public lands the chance to rebuild their natural habitats, and provides ranchers with more financial opportunities. This bill opens the door for private solutions to a long-standing problem and eliminates wasteful spending while saving taxpayer dollars.”
Representative Raul Grijalva joined Congressman Smith in introducing the legislation, saying “grazing is an important use of our public lands, but it's a very impactful use. Excessive grazing impacts wildlife habitat, soil composition, local hydrology, and even heightens the impacts of climate change. Retiring some permits will help save taxpayer money and benefit federal conservation efforts. Right now, when we are looking for ways to save taxpayer money, REVA is a win-win. Ranchers that want to retire their permits should have that opportunity.”
Current law does not allow for the retirement of grazing permits. This has impacts on wildlife, watersheds, and the surrounding ecosystem, which continue to be harmed by domestic livestock grazing. In addition to the environmental issues, the federal grazing program is heavily subsidized and costs American taxpayers over $117 million a year. In Fiscal Year 2014, the BLM and U.S. Forest Service spent $134 million on grazing management, but only reported collecting $17 million in grazing fees.
Click here for a fact sheet on REVA.