Ethan Lane, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Vice President of Government Affairs and representative for the Public Lands Council (PLC), testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to the public lands cattle industry.
The testimony highlighted the importance of public lands ranchers during the pandemic, including their role in resurging the American economy. The testimony also addressed the need for future aid from Congress through access to vacant allotments or areas ungrazed during the summer season and flexibility to utilize grazing as a nimble, targeted natural resource management tool.
“Given the production impacts this year prior to and during calving season, many of these normal production targets were interrupted,” Lane said. “There may be a need for access to additional forage, including vacant allotments or other available allotments that were not grazed during the summer season.”
Lane also discussed the important role of public land ranchers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting their commitment to continued food production, rangeland management, wildfire prevention, and wildlife conservation.
“Despite these challenges, ranchers were on the land, managing the forage, ensuring wildlife had water and forage,” Lane said. “From the most fundamental need for food security, to the dollars that remain in rural communities as a result of agriculture production, to cost savings for the American taxpayer by avoidance of costs associated with catastrophic wildfire, public lands grazing does it all.”
Lane called for the committee to remember the value of public lands ranching and its important role in maintaining open spaces throughout the year.
“We fix fence, roads, water features. We are the eyes and ears on the landscape. We are reliable. We are consistent. We are essential.”