The Biden-Harris administration released a report Thursday to launch its "America the Beautiful" initiative to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and water by 2030, and promised that lands in agricultural production would be part of the effort.
After some of the complaints and questions over 30x30 before its release, the initiative drew comments of encouragement from some major agricultural groups.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and Public Lands Council (PLC) praised the inclusion of agricultural producers' recommendations in the Biden administration's conservation goals report.
"We are pleased to see USDA and DOI incorporate many of the recommendations of America's farmers and ranchers into this conservation plan," said Kaitlynn Glover, speaking for both NCBA and PLC.
"This is a productive starting point that builds on the input of a diverse array of stakeholders -- and moving forward, our focus will be on holding the administration and federal agencies to it," Glover said.
"We look forward to continuing our dialogue with the administration to make sure that the agencies implementing 30x30 leverage the expertise of our producers and reward them for their good work on the ground."
Glover noted that one of the report's six initial recommendations for the initiative focuses specifically on agricultural producers.
"NCBA and PLC have been in constant and proactive communication with the administration to make sure the White House understands the vital role ag producers play in safeguarding our natural landscapes," she said.
The groups noted that the report includes recommendations to:
- "Incentivize voluntary conservation efforts and provide new sources of income for American farmers, ranchers, and foresters.
- "Improve the effectiveness of relevant USDA conservation programs through the 2023 farm bill.
- "Support the voluntary conservation efforts of private landowners.
- "Leverage public-private partnerships and voluntary measures to improve targeted populations of wildlife.
- "Create jobs in rural America that support science-driven stewardship and conservation efforts."
Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, called the report big on ideas, but short on details. “AFBF appreciates that the report acknowledges concerns we have raised and recognizes the oversized contributions of farmers and ranchers to conservation while feeding the world. That recognition must carry through implementation," Duvall said. "The report is a philosophical document that emphasizes important principles such as incentive-based voluntary conservation, protecting personal and property rights and continued ranching on public lands, but it lacks specifics. I had several positive conversations with Secretary Vilsack about 30x30 and we will work with him and his colleagues to ensure the details live up to promises made to protect American agriculture."
National Association of Conservation Districts President Michael Crowder said, "We are pleased that the interagency leaders recognize the importance of locally-led conservation outlined in the report's 'Principles for a Locally Led Effort to Conserve and Restore America the Beautiful.'"
"Conservation districts were created to work directly with landowners and local communities to implement conservation, and the goals of adding additional conservation across the country represent a significant opportunity to advance conservation on both private and public lands."
Crowder continued, "We appreciate this report's focus on support for locally-led and designed conservation efforts and the opportunities that are championed by conservation districts. Conservation districts appreciate the report's recognition of the important efforts of working lands conservation."
He also noted that the report "clarifies an emphasis on conservation rather than preservation or protection as a means of achieving the Administration's goals."
"While there are many opportunities to improve conservation on public lands, the opportunities are many times greater to increase conservation on private lands. Millions of private acres are actively in federal conservation programs or are being managed using effective conservation plans."
National Corn Growers Association President John Linder said, "We're pleased to learn of the emphasis on voluntary conservation measures"
"NCGA has long advocated that voluntary conservation efforts are the best ways to deliver sustainable results on the farm," he said.
"And we conveyed that to the administration in a conversation with them about their 30x30 initiative last month. We're glad they listened and will continue sharing our views with them as this process unfolds."
National Farmers Union President Rob Larew said, "When the administration first announced its plans to conserve 30% of the nation's land, however, we had a lot of questions about what that might mean for agriculture."
After sharing those concerns with the administration, we are heartened that our feedback was taken seriously and incorporated into the final principles.
"Today's report understands the valuable work that family farmers are already doing to improve soil, water, and air quality and commits to advancing that work in the future. We are glad to have clarity on the matter and look forward to continued collaboration with the administration to ensure these principles are followed."
National Fisheries Institute President John Connelly said, "Today's release of recommendations to the National Climate Taskforce illustrates an understanding that simply walling off parts of the ocean, without a science-based fisheries management goal, is not a sound policy"
"In fact, the report states that, 'many uses of our lands and waters, including of working lands, can be consistent with the long-term health and sustainability of natural systems.'"
Connelly said the report "bolsters the fundamental underpinnings of the Magnuson Steven Act, that relies on regional councils to manage fisheries sustainability oversight, when it calls for support of, 'locally led conservation and restoration efforts of all kinds and all over America, wherever communities wish to safeguard the lands and waters they know and love.'"
Department of Interior report: https://www.doi.gov/…
30x30 Dubbed America the Beautiful https://www.dtnpf.com/…
Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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