Public Lands Council offers Washington update
Public Lands Council Executive Director Dustin Van Liew is "wearing the boot leather" in Washington, D.C., on behalf of livestock ranchers who use public lands. He recently offered comments to his membership on sequestration, the Grazing Improvement Act and other PLC priorities.
Sequestration took hold on March 1 via the Budget Control Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in August 2011. Van Liew reports the effects are across the board with billions in reductions among federal agencies and nearly half being taken from defense spending. Specific to public land ranching, agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management will make marginal reductions to all budget line-items including those dealing with range programs.
"I view this sequester as a positive step for a government that is growing out of control and turning out ever more pages of new regulation," Van Liew said. "Let us remember the sequester is only a reduction in the rate of growth and not an actual cut in federal spending. I tend to like the thought of agencies and departments such as the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Landscape Conservation Service and National Park Service having fewer dollars to pay bureaucrats to think up the next Wild Lands Order or monument designation."
Van Liew also remarked on the welcome reintroduction of the Grazing Improvement Act by Sen. John Barrasso, R-WY, and Rep. Raul Labrador, R-ID. This legislation would make agencies more cost-efficient and reduce the paperwork backlog, litigation and uncertainty facing public lands ranchers. Van Liew called the Act, "our industry's signature and priority legislation for the 113th Congress."
"The Grazing Improvement Act has a real chance at advancing through both chambers," Van Liew said. "We will work to see that it once again passes the House and continue to work with the Senate to see the bill has a committee markup and chance at passage."
Van Liew says PLC will work to ensure public lands ranching interests are secure as Congress works on a continuing resolution to fund the federal government for the remainder of FY 13. PLC will also provide information on many important issues facing public lands ranching to appropriators working on fiscal year 14 funding bills.
In closing Van Liew offered these thoughts, "I had lunch the other day with friends from outside agriculture (and D.C. for that matter) who opined that our country has moved into uncharted territory, where there are 'more takers than makers.' They feared we would never return to the days of working hard, risk-equals-reward, and reliance on the founding principles that have guided our country since we sequestered ourselves from the King of England.
"While it is easy to throw up your hands and feel the same as my lunch companions in light of the last election, our industry does not take the easy road and will continue to persevere in spite of the challenges we face. Prosperity has followed stagnation in past cycles, and as a student of economics I believe this will prove out once again."
The Public Lands Council has represented livestock ranchers who use public lands since 1968, preserving the natural resources and unique heritage of the West. Public land ranchers own nearly 120 million acres of the most productive private land and manage vast areas of public land, accounting for critical wildlife habitat and the nation's natural resources. PLC works to maintain a stable business environment in which livestock producers can conserve the West and feed the nation and world. Learn more at www.publiclandscouncil.org or call 202-347-0228.