CFB to Fight Anti-Grazing Lawsuit

The Colorado Farm Bureau, along with 11 other state Farm Bureaus in AFBF’s Western Region, today petitioned the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to intervene in defending two agencies against a lawsuit over grazing fees on federal land. Two environmental groups, the Western Watersheds Project and the Center for Biological Diversity are the named plaintiffs in the suit.

The case, filed against the BLM and US. Forest Service seeks a court order to require agencies to reconsider how grazing fees are calculated and to perform environmental impact analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act, (NEPA) prior to issuing grazing permits each year. Attempts have been made to use Congress to change the permit fee in the past but those efforts have ultimately failed.

According to Troy Bredenkamp, Executive Vice President of Colorado Farm Bureau, the effort seeks to increase the cost of permits and also slow down their approval process. “If the plaintiffs are successful, the Forest Service and the BLM would have to conduct an environmental impact study for every permit they issue, every year. This will raise costs to the governing agencies and also potentially cause delays in the permitting process. ”

The plaintiffs are suing the government based on two statutes, NEPA and the Administrative Procedures Act. By addressing the issue in court, the plaintiffs are seeking to affect the more-than 20,000 federal razing permittees in one action.

“Environmental groups have long opposed an activity that pre-dates the arrival of western civilization in the American West, to wit, grazing on federal lands,” said William Perry Pendley, president of Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) . “They think they have found the mechanism to kill that activity. We intend to stop them.”

Grazing, which has been permitted since American settlers came west, has been a mainstay of the rural western economy and a mechanism for saving open space and western wildlife. Should intervener status be granted by the court, Farm Bureau will be represented by Mountain States Legal Foundation for the remainder of the case. AFBF has also been invited to join the request.

Both the Western Watersheds Project and the Center for Biological Diversity are vehemently anti-grazing and are the PETA’s of the environmental world. The Center cites human population growth as a major problem for wildlife and has launched the Endangered Species Condom project. According to their website:

Through a network of more than 5,000 volunteers, the Center for Biological Diversity has distributed 250,000 free Endangered Species Condoms at Earth Day events in all 50 states — as well as Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico — to highlight how unsustainable human population growth is driving species extinct at a cataclysmic rate. This raises the total number of condoms distributed since the February launch to 350,000.


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