The American Farm Bureau Federation is calling on the Biden Administration to act responsibly in its conservation efforts. Specifically, President Joe Biden’s stated goal to conserve at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030, commonly referred to as “30×30,” is raising questions for the federation and farmers in general. Three key requests are outlined in an AFBF letter to Biden: that the administration provide clarity on the initiative; that the effort recognizes voluntary conservation efforts already underway; and that the administration seeks input from farmers and ranchers.
“This ‘30×30’ goal has received a great deal of attention in farming and ranching communities across the country,” wrote AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “America’s agriculturalists are asking whether their good work will be recognized by the administration. They have voluntarily enrolled more than 140 million acres of private land into federal and non-federal conservation programs — a land mass larger than the size of New York and California combined. Any discussion about conservation must begin with the recognition that farmers and ranchers are leaders in this space and have been for decades.”
More than 800 million acres of land are also being conserved under state and federal ownership. Multiple-use federal lands, as well as actively managed and working lands, should be recognized for their conservation and open space benefits.
The letter continues, “The concerns of farmers and ranchers are escalating regarding the intent of the 30×30 goal, the definition of conservation, and the metrics for defining success, among other things. We urge you to move swiftly to provide clarity about your intentions for the initiative, and when you do so, it will be important for you to invite public comment because farmers and ranchers are leaders in conservation and deserve to have their voices heard.”
However, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters last week that Biden’s 30×30 executive order isn’t a land grab by the administration. He said the goal is to utilize public and private working lands committed to conservation. “We are in the process right now, we meaning the Department of Agriculture, of having a series of outreach efforts. We’ve established a Federal Registry notice for the series of questions that we’ve asked folks to comment on, and we’ve had a series of meetings with commodity groups, farm organizations, and others, to get their input.”
On Facebook, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said, “At this time, President Biden has not called for any reduction of beef production or consumption related to 30×30 or the climate plan the White House released last week.
“We are in regular communication with USDA and the Department of the Interior to emphasize the importance of the high-quality protein beef provides in the American diet, as well as producers’ long history of environmental stewardship. In discussions specifically focused on 30×30, we have been clear that the plan *cannot* undermine the success of cattle producers’ voluntary conservation efforts or be used as a federal land grab.”