It's been said that farmers and landowners are the 'first environmentalists.' Still, in recent years landowners have butted up against The Endangered Species Act in any number of ways. Often the ESA provisions that protect endangered species take away landowner property rights in ways that make it impossible gain landowners' enthusiastic support.
The American Farm Bureau Federation has been looking for ways farmers can support endangered species programs without it damaging their incomes. The Endangered Species Reserve Act of 2006 may just be the right vehicle, says AFBF president Bob Stallman.
The ESRA would provide tax credit incentives to farmers and ranchers to motivate them to take initiatives that improve habitat for endangered species.
"With private lands housing 80 percent of listed species, we are absolutely convinced that cooperation with private landowners is essential if the Endangered Species Act is to achieve its goal of recovering species," Stallman said In a letter to U.S. Senators dated Dec. 6.
In the letter he made the case that any endangered species protections need to look after the needs of farmers and ranchers, too.
"Farmers and ranchers are the best stewards of the land," he said. "Thus, the vast majority of landowners want to enjoy listed species on their property, but have been stymied by restrictions on the use of their land by ESA regulations."
Stallman calls the ESRA act a "win-win" for landowners and endangered species.
For more information on AFBF legislative efforts, visit www.newsroom.fb.org