ESA reform: Farmers focus on voluntary efforts, impact on landowners
Washington—With almost 80 percent of species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act occurring to some extent on private land, farmers and ranchers are urging a congressional working group to take into account the law’s impact on landowners and to look for ways to remedy restrictions that unnecessarily impinge on the rights of private property owners.
“In AFBF’s view the ESA is in critical need of reform, particularly from the perspective of farmers and ranchers,” the American Farm Bureau Federation said earlier this month in comments to the Endangered Species Act Congressional Working Group. The group includes lawmakers from across the country who are analyzing the ESA from all angles. It is considering what works well with the current law and its regulations, ways it could be updated, and how to boost the law’s effectiveness for both species and people.
Further drilling down to how landowners, and producers specifically, are affected by ESA regulations, Farm Bureau pointed out that almost 35 percent of listed species occur exclusively on private lands, “meaning that such species are nearly critically dependent on the actions of private landowners for their continued existence.” Much of that private land is agricultural land.
In the comments, Farm Bureau detailed some of the organization’s ESA-related policies, including those that support:
· A voluntary program administered by the Department of the Interior to enter contracts with private landowners to maximize and enhance habitat through technical assistance and other incentives.
· Compensation of landowners for damages to or loss of the use of their property resulting from implementation of any provision of the ESA regarding private property.