Rehberg’s Bill to Preserve Grazing Rights Helps Montana Ranchers, Economy

WASHINGTON D.C. – Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, introduced legislation with Congressman Raul Labrador (ID-01) to help strengthen the long-term economic outlook for Montana’s livestock community.  The Grazing Improvement Act of 2012 will benefit the grazing permit process for federal lands by helping to prevent environmental groups from using spurious judicial delays to prevent multi-use purposes of public lands.

“This bill helps restore some badly needed stability to an industry that is the heart and soul of the Montana economy,” said Rehberg, a fifth-generation Montana rancher and member of the Congressional Rural Caucus. “Ranchers with grazing permits make large investments in the health of our public lands and are America’s first and best conservationists. But their ability to care for the land is being compromised because the grazing permit process has fallen victim to an all-too-familiar ploy of environmental obstructionists who prevent multiple use of our public lands by flooding the court system with dubious claims. We need to clean this up, and this bill helps do that.”

Under current law, livestock grazing permits are issued for 10 years, after which a new environmental analysis is required before the permit can be renewed.  However, due to the backlog of appeals and lawsuits filed by extreme environmental groups, permitting agencies are tasked with repetitive work and other unnecessary burdens and are unable to complete the required analysis before the permits expire.  For the past decade, grazing permit holders and public land managers have had to rely on Congress to issue temporary 1-year permits, generally through language attached to larger bills, which makes the permit renewals unreliable. The Grazing Act allows the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service to continue issuing grazing permits while the required environmental analysis is pending.

The bill enjoys broad grassroots support from organizations including the Montana Wool Growers Association (MWGA), the Montana Stockgrowers Association, and the Montana Public Lands Council.

MWGA President, Randy Tunby heralded Rehberg’s support for the measure.  “I appreciate Congressman Rehberg’s support of this common-sense legislation,” said Tunby, from Baker, MT. “From his experiences as a rancher, Denny understands how important this bill is for Montana’s ag producers.  It would provide much needed certainty for our members, and ensure that federal land use decisions are no longer made just for the benefit of anti-job environmentalists who misuse the court system to prevent the general use of our public lands.”

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