WASHINGTON, D.C.Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act, legislation to reduce conflicts on federal public lands and increase flexibility for federal grazing permittees.

Livestock grazing on federal public lands can lead to conflicts with other multiple uses that can have impacts on wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. In many cases, simply removing livestock is the best solution to reduce or resolve these conflicts. However, current law and regulations either do not allow for the retirement of grazing permits or make the process unnecessarily difficult and uncertain.

The voluntary retirement of grazing permits authorized by the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act (VGPRA) is the most cost-effective and equitable way to address this issue. It would provide grazing permit holders the option to voluntarily waive their permits to graze on federal lands in exchange for market value compensation paid by private parties. The federal agency would then be directed to retire the associated grazing allotment from further grazing activity.

“This is a common-sense solution to provide for smarter management of our public lands to the benefit of the environment, wildlife, and ranchers,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Voluntary grazing permit retirement has proven to be an effective mechanism for reducing conflicts on public lands. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act will ensure this option is available to ranchers across all the Western states.”

Statements of Support

The VGPRA is endorsed by numerous leading environmental, conservation, and wildlife organizations including: Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society Legislative Fund, American Bird Conservancy, Animal Welfare Institute, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Center For Biological Diversity, Wilderness Watch, Humane Society of the United States, The Lands Council, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Grand Canyon Trust, Predator Defense, Western Watersheds Project, Kettle Range Conservation, and Oregon Natural Desert Association.

Sierra Club

Grazing of private livestock on public lands sometimes creates conditions and conflicts that can only be resolved by removal of the livestock. Existing policies make livestock removal extremely difficult. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act (VGPRA) creates a proven, effective, free market-based mechanism to resolve problems when conservation goals and livestock production dynamics clash on our public lands. It is a win-win solution when willing ranchers and private conservation dollars come together to allow permanent grazing retirement. Salmon, sage grouse, wolves, recreationists, ranchers, taxpayers and many more will benefit from the passage of this simple bill that allows for a permanent, common-sense solution to some of the thorniest challenges of our times. The Sierra Club enthusiastically supports Representative Smith's forward-looking approach to public lands management.

Natural Resources Defense Council

The Natural Resources Defense Council believes this legislation has huge upside by eliminating a gaping management hole that has existed for decades, a deficit that has restricted the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service from working with stakeholders and ranchers to more efficiently manage hundreds of millions of acres of public lands.  By providing additional tools for federal land managers, the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act unlocks opportunities to achieve credible and consensus driven conservation gains that are not currently possible.

Defenders of Wildlife

Voluntary grazing permit retirement has repeatedly proven successful at resolving management conflicts on public lands.  The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act is a win-win-win for interested grazing permittees, conservation and our public lands.

The Humane Society of the United States

Giving ranchers the opportunity to voluntarily retire some federal public lands from livestock grazing will benefit myriad wildlife species, including grizzly bears, wolves, prairie dogs and wild horses. It will also reduce conflicts between wildlife and livestock. Rep. Adam Smith’s proposal to expand the voluntary grazing permit retirement program to all federal lands managed by the Agriculture and Interior departments in 16 western states is not just smart, it’s fair to all stakeholders.

American Bird Conservancy

The voluntary program established by Rep. Smith’s bill provides a smart solution that can benefit both bird conservation, and ranchers who seek to retire their allotments.  The recent Bird Crisis study showing a loss of three billion birds shows that we need to be doing more, this bill is a good idea that deserves to become law, we strongly support it.

Animal Welfare Institute

Voluntary grazing permit retirement is a straightforward way to eliminate wildlife-livestock and recreation conflicts on public lands. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act is an important step in implementing a long overdue solution to this ongoing problem.

Great Old Broads for Wilderness

As we experience an era of increasing drought on many western public lands, it’s an important time to reconsider the unintended impacts of public land grazing and provide options to benefit ranchers, taxpayers, and public lands. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act provides a common-sense option that is good for ranchers who willingly choose to retire their grazing permits, just as it benefits American taxpayers and the long-term health of our public lands.

Center For Biological Diversity

This is a common-sense solution that benefits livestock operators and wildlife.  It will help restore the landscape and allow native wildlife to thrive while helping livestock operators ease out of federal grazing. Habitat restoration is a bipartisan issue, so legislators on both sides of the aisle should embrace this legislation.

Wilderness Watch

The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act can go a long way in resolving the inherent conflict with livestock grazing in our nation’s designated Wildernesses.  It deserves the support of all public officials and citizens who believe in truly wild and natural ecosystems and the opportunity to experience and benefit from them.

The Lands Council

Grazing reform is critically important in preservation of our public lands.  We support Representative Smith’s Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act, it encourages voluntary action and uses administrative measures for mitigating damage and conserving remaining biodiversity on our treasured public lands.  

Humane Society Legislative Fund

Ranchers who own public lands grazing permits own a valuable asset. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act will enable these private landowners to realize the capital of their allotments, increasing their choices for managing their land particularly in the face of agricultural market fluctuations. The legislation will also benefit wild animals by restoring ecological functioning in range habitats. We applaud Rep. Adam Smith for championing this innovative, win-win bill.

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Empowering permit-holders to easily retire grazing permits they no longer want will help land management agencies better care for and restore sensitive ecosystems across the West. Treasured national icons, such as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, have seen difficult-to-resolve conflict over grazing that could be solved through this win-win system, and we commend Rep. Smith for his solutions-oriented approach.  

Grand Canyon Trust

Voluntary grazing permit retirement provides ranchers the freedom to choose a path that suits their families, conservationists a way to protect important landscapes, and federal land managers a strategy to uphold their legal and ethical mandates. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act provides a framework within which grazing permittees, conservation organizations, and the federal government can pursue those common goals for our public lands.

Predator Defense

Predator Defense enthusiastically supports the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act. Grazing permit retirement is a "win win" solution for conflicts between native predators and livestock producers. By retiring grazing allotments, native predators will have "safe" landscapes to live out their lives without fear of shooting, trapping, and poisoning. 

Western Watersheds Project

Voluntary grazing permit retirement is a terrific opportunity to resolve conflicts on public lands that benefits native fish, wildlife and the habitats they depend on.  It is a win-win for the environment and for ranchers looking to transition away from public lands grazing.  We are very grateful to Rep. Smith for introducing this common sense, solution oriented legislation. 

Kettle Range Conservation

Northeast Washington-area ranchers will be well served by this legislation because it will provide them more flexibility in managing their livestock allotment permits.   The public interest will be better served by use of conservation measures that protect critical fish & wildlife habitat and high-use recreation areas.

Oregon Natural Desert Association

Voluntary grazing permit retirement is an effective tool for resolving resource conflict on public lands.

The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act provides a common-sense framework that will assist in realizing commonly held conservation and restoration goals across the West.