Preserving natural surroundings for America’s wildlife has long been a priority for America’s farmers and ranchers. Today, Americans have a growing understanding of and appreciation for wildlife conservation. There are countless examples of effective voluntary conservation programs and practices that are being implemented at the state and local level. Today, more than 140 million privately owned farm and ranch acres are enrolled in voluntary federal conservation programs, providing habitats for countless animals and insects. That’s a land mass equal to the states of California and New York combined. However, the Endangered Species Act is long overdue for a meaningful update that recognizes these voluntary efforts to restore and enhance habitats.
Today, more than 140 million privately owned farm and ranch acres are enrolled in voluntary federal conservation programs, providing habitats for countless animals and insects.
Endangered and threatened species protection can be more effectively achieved by providing incentives to private landowners and public land users rather than by imposing land use restrictions and penalties. We must all be good stewards of our natural resources and wildlife habitats.
Farm Bureaus across the country have played a leading role in education, outreach and goal setting to protect at-risk species such as the Monarch butterfly and Lesser Prairie chicken. Unfortunately, ESA listings often entangle farmers and ranchers in bureaucratic red tape rather than providing a path to achieve shared conservation goals.
Farmers and ranchers across the country are demonstrating how conservation can be achieved while protecting both wildlife and our essential food, fiber and renewable energy production. The ESA must be amended and updated to protect wildlife and promote voluntary efforts that restore and protect at-risk species.