Provision to Change Endangered Species Act has Support of Cattlemen

How cattlemen interact with threatened species like the greater sage-grouse could change with modifications to the Endangered Species Act. ( U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service )

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) could soon be changed to benefit livestock grazers and others in agriculture who have been impacted by the law. Earlier this month Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), released the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018 discussion draft. The bill would help increase the transparency of the ESA and elevate the role of individual states.

“When it comes to the Endangered Species Act, the status quo is not good enough,” Barrasso says. “We must do more than just keep listed species on life support - we need to see them recovered. This draft legislation will increase state and local input and improve transparency in the listing process. It will promote the recovery of species and allow local economies to flourish. I have worked closely with the bipartisan Western Governors’ Association to draft a bill that works for endangered species and people alike.”

A letter was sent to Barrasso on July 13 by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the Public Lands Council (PLC), the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and other groups supporting the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018.

Following those developments a statement from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about proposed updates to ESA regulations was released on July 19.

Revisions by Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service would eliminate provisions that automatically give threatened species the same protections as endangered species.

“The Trump Administration is dedicated to being a good neighbor and being a better partner with the communities in which we operate. One thing we heard over and over again was that ESA implementation was not consistent and often times very confusing to navigate. We are proposing these improvements to produce the best conservation results for the species while reducing the regulatory burden on the American people,” says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Greg Sheehan.

Comments are being sought in regards to the rules that were published in the Federal Register on July 25, 2018. The comment period ends on September 24, 2018, and comments can be posted on

“We are pleased to see the administration taking such a serious and measured approach to modernizing the regulatory side of the Endangered Species Act.  While we are still reviewing the details of these proposed rules, they are focused on some of the most impactful areas of current ESA implementation and could consequently provide tremendous relief to ranchers once finalized.  We look forward to working with Secretary Zinke and his team on this effort,” says Ethan Lane, Executive Director of the PLC and NCBA Federal Lands.

For more on developments with the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2018 and how cattlemen are taking these actions listen to the following AgriTalk interview with Senator Barrasso and NCBA president Kevin Kester: