Forest (copy)

A new conservation proposal by the Biden administration relies on voluntary, locally led efforts.

The Biden administration has released a report outlining its vision to conserve and restore land, water and wildlife with recommendations for locally led, voluntary efforts to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.

The 24-page report outlining the administration’s “America the Beautiful” initiative recognizes the contributions of farmers, ranchers, forest owners, private landowners and fishers and commits to supporting those efforts.

Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president, said he appreciates the report’s acknowledgement of his organization’s concerns and recognition of farmers’ and ranchers’ contributions to conservation.

“That recognition must carry through implementation,” he said.

“The report is a philosophical document that emphasizes important principles such as incentive-based voluntary conservation, protecting personal and property rights and continued ranching on public lands, but it lacks specifics,” he said.

Farm Bureau will work with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and his colleagues to ensure the details live up to promises made to protect American agriculture, he said.

Rob Larew, president of National Farmers Union, said farmers and ranchers initially had a lot of questions about what the plan might mean for agriculture.

“After sharing those concerns with the administration, we are heartened that our feedback was taken seriously and incorporated into the final principles,” he said.

“Today’s report understands the valuable work that family farmers are already doing to improve soil, water and air quality and commits to advancing that work in the future. We are glad to have clarity on the matter and look forward to continued collaboration with the administration to ensure these principles are followed,” he said.

Michael Crawford, president of the National Association of Conservation Districts, said the association appreciates the report’s focus on support for locally led and designed conservation efforts and the opportunities that are championed by conservation districts.

“Conservation districts were created to work directly with landowners and local communities to implement conservation, and the goals of adding additional conservation across the country represents a significant opportunity to advance conservation on both private and public lands,” he said.

Tim Fink, policy director for the American Farmland Trust, said the organization is pleased the report reflects its recommendations.

Those recommendations included a voluntary, locally led approach that capitalized on existing conservation programs to sequester carbon and create habitat.

“We also underscored the threat posed by agricultural land loss and the importance of prioritizing biodiversity hotspots, key connectivity corridors and areas with high carbon-sequestration potential,” he said.

“We applaud the Biden administration for explicitly including these concepts in their report recommendations and look forward to working with them as they continue to develop the details of this important initiative,” he said.

Kaitlynn Glover, executive director of the Public Lands Council and natural resources for National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said the organizations are pleased the report incorporated many recommendations from farmers and ranchers.

The report “includes many of the priorities that are most important to cattle and sheep producers, including the protection of private property rights, learning from successful working lands management and leveraging the expertise of ag producers for the benefit of lands, wildlife and all land users,” she said.

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