The American Farm Bureau Federation has called on the administration to act responsibly in conservation efforts. Specifically, President Biden’s goal to conserve at least 30% of our lands and waters by 2030, commonly referred to as “30x30,” is raising questions. Three key requests are outlined in a letter to President Biden: that the administration provide clarity on the initiative; that the effort recognizes voluntary conservation efforts already underway; and that the administration seeks input from farmers and ranchers.

“This ‘30x30’ goal has received a great deal of attention in farming and ranching communities across the country,” wrote AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “America’s agriculturalists are asking whether their good work will be recognized by the administration. They have voluntarily enrolled more than 140 million acres of private land into federal and non-federal conservation programs – a land mass larger than the size of New York and California combined. Any discussion about conservation must begin with the recognition that farmers and ranchers are leaders in this space and have been for decades.”

In Montana, farmers and ranchers are expressing concern and asking to know more about the Biden Administration’s “goal” of 30x30, as well. MFBF District 3 Director Kris Descheemaeker recently attended a meeting in Lewistown on the subject.

“The 30x30 Initiative was done through an executive order January 27, yet there is not a lot of information forthcoming from the Biden Administration, which is making many farmers and ranchers wary. We heard the statistics that to get 30x 30, the federal government will need more than 450 million acres to get to the goal they set. That is twice the size of Texas,” noted Descheemaeker. She added that those lands would have no multiple use and be simply unused lands. “As we know, that’s not healthy ecology. In addition, there is concern that the government will take away grazing permits and forest service permits as well as push conservation easements. If we take all those lands out of production, we will be heading toward being a net importer of food, not a net exporter like we are today. The speakers urged us to work with our local governments to get policy in place to have a say if this should come about.”

In their letter, AFBF noted that more than 800 million acres of land are already being conserved under state and federal ownership. Multiple-use federal lands, as well as actively managed and working lands, should be recognized for their conservation and open space benefits.

The letter continues, “The concerns of farmers and ranchers are escalating regarding the intent of the 30x30 goal, the definition of conservation, and the metrics for defining success, among other things. We urge you to move swiftly to provide clarity about your intentions for the initiative, and when you do so, it will be important for you to invite public comment because farmers and ranchers are leaders in conservation and deserve to have their voices heard.”
Read the full letter.