Earlier this month, U.S. Rep.Gabe Vasquez (D-NM-02) announced the introduction of the bipartisan and bicameral Ranching Without Red Tape Act alongside Rep.John Curtis (R-UT), Rep. John Duarte (R-CA) and Sen.John Barrasso (R-WY) that aims to make it easier for ranchers to make minor range improvements on federal lands.
“In my conversations with cattle growers and food producers, I’ve heard repeatedly about unreasonable delays in the federal permitting process to make minor improvements, such as repairing a pasture fence,” said Vasquez. “Common-sense improvements should receive expedited approval without the red tape. I’m proud to introduce the Ranching Without Red Tape Act to help put food on our tables. A simple improvement request can take years to complete, even under the best conditions, and larger improvements can take even longer. We can both protect our natural resources, while supporting small businesses with this common-sense proposal.”
The Ranching Without Red Tape Act aims to make it easier for ranchers on federally leased lands to make range improvements without negotiating their permits or waiting months for agency responses to their requests. The bill removes bureaucratic restrictions on ranchers, allowing some of our nation’s most important producers to conduct their operations more easily while protecting our lands from major unsupervised changes.
“We appreciate Congressman Vasquez and his effort to reduce the red tape associated with ranching on federal lands,” said President Larry Reagan, New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau. “This legislation will help ranchers get much-needed improvements on the ground faster. Ranchers are integral partners to our federal land managers in actively managing our public lands and responsibly stewarding our natural resources for the benefit and enjoyment of all.”
“Ranchers work on the ground to improve range conditions and resources,” said Tom Paterson, owner of Spur Ranch in Catron County. “That includes repairing breached stock tanks, cleaning those tanks, laying in pipelines, storage tanks and drinkers for water distribution and many other projects that benefit livestock and wildlife and distribute animals across the landscape. Delays in approving improvements thwart wise stewardship. This cattle rancher endorses legislation, such as Ranching Without Red Tape, that seeks to eliminate those delays. I am grateful to the Congressman for working to address this issue.”
“American ranchers are valuable stewards of our shared working lands. They work day-in and day-out to improve these vital natural resources,” said Chad Franke, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union President. “Our ranchers need the flexibility to make timely improvements within their grazing allotments to ensure they can remain nimble and build resilience in a changing climate. We thank Congressman Vasquez for his leadership in bringing forward this common-sense solution for our agricultural producers.”
The bill is supported by New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, Utah Farm Bureau, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Wyoming Farm Bureau, American Farm Bureau Federation, Wyoming Stock Growers and Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts.
The Ranching Without Red Tape Act allows ranchers to make minor range improvements to existing structural improvements, including fences and fence lines, wells, water pipelines, and stock tanks, in a streamlined manner and without having to renegotiate their permits. The bill would direct the Forest Service (USFS) or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to respond to minor range improvement requests from ranchers within 30 days or provide tacit approval to ranchers, allowing them to carry out the improvement by not responding. The bill would also instruct USFS and BLM to expedite permittee requests for the agency to implement improvements using tools like categorical exclusions.