AFBF: Bureau of Land Management’s proposal could change the way western producers operate

A recent conservation proposal from the Bureau of Land Management is raising concerns across the ag industry.

The American Farm Bureau fears it could change the way farmers and ranchers operate out west.

According to Shelby Hagenauer, “There are several things they are proposing. The first one and probably the most significant is elevating conservation as a use under the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act of 1976. They’re proposing to create a new kind of lease on BLM lands, a conservation lease. They’re prioritizing the designation and protection of areas of critical environmental concern, and these are areas that have special management attention, and they could include simply closing down areas entirely from public use.”

Hagenauer also says that this proposal was developed with no stakeholder input or advance notification.

“These are really complicated issues and conversations that should be facilitated by the agency with the involvement of all stakeholders, folks interested in grazing, the energy industry, recreationalists. They should have these conversations over years to develop really solid durable solutions,” she explains. “Right now, public input is confined to a 75-day public comment period, and further, the public meetings they are holding have left stakeholders of all kinds with more questions than answers.”

She is encouraging farmers to work with their local lawmakers to let them know how their land will be affected and to encourage an extension of the comment period, which is set to expire on June 20th.