The agriculture industry has been watching and waiting for more details on Biden’s plan to conserve 30 percent of U.S. land and water by 2030 — also known as the 30×30 conservation plan. Now dubbed the “America the Beautiful” initiative, the recommendations were detailed in a report today.
The report calls for a decade-long effort to support locally led and voluntary conservation and restoration efforts across public, private, and Tribal lands and waters in order to create jobs and strengthen the economy’s foundation, tackle the climate and nature crises, and address inequitable access to the outdoors.
The report, submitted to the National Climate Task Force, was developed by the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. It outlines eight principles that should guide the nationwide effort, including a pursuit of collaborative approaches; a commitment to supporting the voluntary conservation efforts of farmers, ranchers, and fishers; and honoring of Tribal sovereignty and private property rights.
Based on feedback gathered, the report identifies six priority areas for the administration’s early focus, investments, and collaboration:
- Creating more parks and safe outdoor opportunities in nature-deprived communities.
- Supporting Tribally led conservation and restoration priorities.
- Expanding collaborative conservation of fish and wildlife habitats and corridors.
- Increasing access for outdoor recreation.
- Incentivizing and rewarding the voluntary conservation efforts of fishers, ranchers, farmers, and forest owners.
- Creating jobs by investing in restoration and resilience projects and initiatives, including the Civilian Climate Corps.
One of the report’s six initial recommendations for the “America the Beautiful” initiative focuses specifically on agricultural producers. According to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the report includes recommendations to:
- Incentivize voluntary conservation efforts and provide new sources of income for American farmers, ranchers, and foresters
- Improve the effectiveness of relevant USDA conservation programs through the 2023 Farm Bill
- Support the voluntary conservation efforts of private landowners
- Leverage public-private partnerships and voluntary measures to improve targeted populations of wildlife
- Create jobs in rural America that support science-driven stewardship and conservation efforts
The report also calls for three agencies — U.S. Geological Survey, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — to develop the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas. This atlas will access the voluntary contributions of farmers, ranchers, forest owners and private landowners; the contributions of fishery management councils; and other existing conservation designations on lands and waters across federal, state, local, Tribal, and private lands and waters across the nation that already exist to count towards the goal.
However, agriculture groups were hoping for more concrete details. The American Farm Bureau Federation had called for clarity early on in the 30×30 conservation plan announcement and feels today’s announcement falls flat on providing details. President Zippy Duvall said, “AFBF appreciates that the report acknowledges concerns we have raised and recognizes the oversized contributions of farmers and ranchers to conservation while feeding the world. That recognition must carry through implementation. 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. I had several positive conversations with Secretary Vilsack about 30×30 and we will work with him and his colleagues to ensure the details live up to promises made to protect American agriculture.”
“This is a productive starting point that builds on the input of a diverse array of stakeholders — and moving forward, our focus will be on holding the administration and federal agencies to it,” said Kaitlynn Glover, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Executive Director of Natural Resources and Public Lands Council Executive Director. “Over the next decade, livestock producers will continue doing what they’ve done for generations — manage their lands in a way that promotes conservation and good environmental outcomes, and share that expertise with federal agencies.”