The American Farm Bureau Federation March 3 said it supports a Bureau of Land Management proposal for streamlining rules covering regulation of livestock grazing on federal lands.

"We support BLM efforts to cut red tape so that more time and effort is devoted to on-ground improvements," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "We also support efforts to provide greater flexibility to land managers and ranchers, while at the same time improving land conservation."

In a letter to BLM, Farm Bureau said one of the agency's proposed changes would benefit ranchers by allowing them to have a title interest in range improvements they construct on their grazing allotments.

"Farmers and ranchers who construct range improvements should have an ownership interest in them," said Stallman. "They should be able to list range improvements that they build and pay for as assets on their balance sheets when applying for bank loans."

Stallman said Farm Bureau also supports a change in regulations that would make ownership of water rights on BLM lands more consistent with state laws. Water rights should only be acquired through the process established by state water law, he said.

BLM's proposal to restore the concept of "grazing preference" as it was defined in the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 also would benefit ranchers, according to Farm Bureau.

"This change will give ranchers a greater degree of certainty in the amounts of grazing forage that they might be able to use in a period of time," Stallman said. "It provides ranchers with a better basis on which to make decisions regarding the size of their operations."

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