California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson today urged Congress to improve the current culture of conflict that exemplifies current Endangered Species Act regulations.
Testifying on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation, the California olive and citrus grower told members of the House Committee on Natural Resources that an evaluation is needed of how the Endangered Species Act works, and how it can be improved to better work with farmers and other landowners.
“We all value protecting species from extinction.” Johansson said. “Our disagreements are not about the goal of species protection, but the best way to achieve that goal. We are not here to question the Act’s fundamental goal of striving to conserve species from extinction. This goal will not and should not change. What we grapple with today is not whether we should conserve species from extinction, but how we should conserve species from extinction.”
Johansson explained to the Committee that farmers and conservation groups understand that for species protection programs to work better, they must be improved for both species and people.
“What we know is that to actually take care of species on the land, we need to work with, not against, the people on the land,” Johansson said. “For this to happen, we must increase the opportunities for collaboration and decrease the opportunities for conflict. Currently, landowners view the ESA as a threat. The history of the ESA has generally shown landowners that having species or habitat (on their private land) creates a lot of risk and provides no real benefit. Given that half of listed species spend 80% of their lives on private land, this situation offers little opportunity for people or species.”