Common sense needed in Endangered Species Act

Created: 9/09/14 (Tue) | Topic: Issues

Washington, D.C., – The Arkansas Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation  called for clear, cost-benefit analyses from regulatory agencies that enforce the Endangered Species Act.

Since current rules account only for government expenditures, Arkansas Farm Bureau President Randy Veach said the often oppressive cost of ESA enforcement on the private sector gets ignored.

“If over-zealous enforcement of federal laws, such as the ESA, were to hinder, disrupt or further burden our farmers and ranchers, we will not be able to sustainably raise the crops and livestock necessary to feed the 7 billion people currently on our planet, much less the 9 billion projected by 2050,” Veach said.

Veach spoke before the House Committee on Natural Resources in support of H.R. 4319, the Common Sense in Species Protection Act of 2014. The bill would require federal agencies to show full economic justification before placing any land under the protection of a critical habitat designation, which often severely restricts farming and ranching in the affected area.

In Arkansas, the proposed critical habitat for Neosho Mucket and Rabbitsfoot mussels would cover nearly 42 percent of the state’s watershed and approximately 770 waterway miles. Ninety percent of those waterways pass through private land. Veach called this regulatory overreach “irresponsible.”

Veach is not alone in calling for more accurate accounting in ESA enforcement. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock, for instance, recently estimated the cost of the habitat designation in Arkansas alone was five times that calculated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services for the 12 states included in the designation of these two aquatic species. Many Arkansas farmers already operate under some of the most significant regulatory constraints in the country. All are proud, committed stewards of the land, Veach said.

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