“We need to provide for more environmentally responsible and economically sound management of our public lands,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “As we look for sustainable solutions to our fiscal challenges, the Rural Economic Vitalization Act provides a mechanism to restore our public lands while providing economic opportunities. This legislation will benefit the American taxpayer while simultaneously protecting our environment.”
“First, I would like to thank Representative Smith for his leadership on this important issue.” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, who joined Congressman Smith in introducing the legislation. “The federal grazing program is in need of serious reform - the scale of taxpayer money that goes into subsidizing the industry, not to mention the negative impact on the environment, is often overlooked. By making it easier to voluntary retire permits, the Rural Economic Vitalization Act offers a solution that will reduce the impacts of grazing on public lands and complement federal conservation efforts throughout the Western United States, while giving ranchers new financial options. This commonsense bill is a win-win."
Background: Existing law does not allow for the retirement of grazing permits. This outdated policy has negative impacts on wildlife, watersheds, and the surrounding ecosystem, which continue to be harmed by domestic livestock grazing. In addition to the environmental issues that intensify the impacts of climate change, the federal grazing program is heavily subsidized and costs American taxpayers over $109.4 million a year. The Government Accountability Office reports that in Fiscal Year 2016, the BLM and U.S. Forest Service spent $135.9 million on grazing management, but only reported collecting $26.5 million in grazing fees.