Two bills, HR 4965 and HR 4234, have passed house committee votes and will continue on to vote by the full House of Representatives.
HR 4234, legislation to extend grazing permits and ease grazing permit renewal processes, was passed with a 27 to 15 vote by the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee last week. The bill, an amendment to Senator John Barrasso's (R-Wyo.) Grazing Improvement Act, was sponsored by Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and 14 other bipartisan lawmakers.
Notably, the bill will extend grazing permits from 10 to 20 years, ease government backlog in permit processing, and improve the administrative appeals process.
Dustin Van Liew, NCBA director of federal lands, said the legislation will create a more stable business environment for ranchers, and will allow them to become better stewards of the land.
"Public lands ranchers are tasked with an enormous amount of responsibility," Van Liew said. "Not only are they responsible for providing for their families and contributing wealth to the U.S. economy, they are tasked with maintaining and improving the land."
John Falen, Public Lands Council president and National Cattlemen's Beef Association member from Nevada, agreed, and called the legislation "commonsense."
"This legislation will provide certainty to livestock producers, ensuring them that bureaucrats are not going to pull the rug from under the grazing permits they rely on to raise healthy animals," he said.
A second bill, HR 4965, further identifies waters protected by the Clean Water Act and limits the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers from using guidance documents, rather than the official rule making processes, to control water use by farmers and ranchers.
The bill passed through the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure with a 33 to 18 vote. It is sponsored by U.S. Congressmen John Mica (R-Fla.), Nick Rahall (D-W.V.), Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), House Agriculture Committee leader Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).
The legislation was triggered by a Clean Water Act proposed jurisdictional guidance document, which attempts to give the EPA and the Corps jurisdiction over all types of waters.
NCBA President J.D. Alexander said the legislation is a clear violation of the Administrative Procedures Act, and allows activists turned government officials to avoid public scrutiny and bypass the consideration of legal, economic and unintended consequences.