Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

Wyoming's farmers and ranchers battle burdensome regulations

 

February 15, 2018

Courtesy Senator Barrasso

Left to Right: Senator Barrasso with Niels Hansen.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), welcomed Niels Hansen, secretary and treasurer of the Public Lands Council and member of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, to the committee. Hansen was testifying before the committee at a hearing on "the Impact of Federal Environmental Regulations and Policies on American Farming and Ranching Communities."

 At the hearing, senators received testimony from stakeholders on the effects that one-size-fits-all environmental regulations have on farmers and ranchers, and their ability to do their jobs.

Barrasso introduced Hansen to the committee prior to his testimony. "Niels is the immediate past president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and currently serves as secretary and treasurer for the Public Lands Council.

"As a third-generation rancher, Niels knows that raising cattle, sheep, and horses is full of challenges.

"Over the years, Niels has worked with the University of Wyoming and Bureau of Land Management to develop Cooperative Rangeland Monitoring, which has allowed Niels to become intimately familiar with both the needs of his livestock and the needs of rangeland ecosystems.

 "His successful stewardship is evident in the longevity and success of his family ranch, which has also been recognized for many years in Wyoming and nationally.

 "The BLM recognized Niels' ranch with the BLM Rangeland Management Stewardship Award in 2000. And in 2001, the ranch was named the Little Snake River Conservation District Cooperator of the Year.

 "Niels has been recognized repeatedly for his leadership in the industry and in his community.

"He has served, as a member of the Rawlins Search and Rescue and was inducted into the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2011.

"Niels, I am pleased to have you here today to lend your wealth of experience to the committee," said Barrasso.

Mr. Hansen testifies before the Senate EPW Committee.

In his written testimony, Hansen detailed some of the roadblocks farmers and ranchers face as a result of burdensome federal regulations. "The 2015 Waters of the United States (or "WOTUS") Rule continues to be a top concern for cattle producers as long as it remains on the books," said Hansen. "As a livestock producer, the 2015 WOTUS Rule has the potential to negatively affect every aspect of my operation by placing the regulation of every tributary, stream, pond, and dry streambed in the hands of the federal government, rather the states and localities that understand Wyoming's unique water issues," he added. Hansen applauded the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) move to delay the onerous rule.

Hansen also detailed how the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule burdens farmers and ranchers. Originally aimed at oil refineries, farms and ranches are now required "to develop and certify a control plan and install secondary containment structures for oil storage." Hansen notes that "these requirements create an undue burden on farmers and ranchers, who are located in the most remote parts of the country and need oil storage to power our farm equipment."

Hansen emphasized the commitment that farmers and ranchers have to conservation because their jobs depend on healthy land, wildlife, and ecosystems. "Since our livelihood is made on the land, through the utilization of our natural resources, protecting the land not only makes good environmental sense; it is fundamental for our industry to remain strong," he noted.

However, environmental regulations from Washington that do not consider Wyoming's specific needs do more harm than good. "A one-size-fits-all approach that accompanies top-down regulation does not work in my industry. Mandatory rules and requirements make it harder for ranchers to utilize the unique conservation practices that help their individual operations thrive," said Hansen.

 

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