WASHINGTON, D.C. As a strong advocate for farmers and ranchers, U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) introduced amendments to the Farm Bill that would defend Idahoans' public land use and voice in federal decisions and tax dollars.
Two amendments regarding Sage-Grouse management and monuments designation will protect ranchers’ grazing access and Idaho’s right to self-govern. Another amendment by Risch would properly manage taxpayer dollars ensuring funding that is intended for research to help wheat and barley farmers is not being largely diminished by administrative costs. These three key Idaho priorities will be considered this week as the Senate moves to vote on the Farm Bill.
“Idaho’s diverse agricultural industry is a key piece of its robust economy. This Farm Bill can help guarantee the federal government is not obstructing our farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to feed the world. I’ve had many conversations with Idahoans who agree state and local officials should play a greater role in any decision that directly impacts us. These proposals are a culmination of those conversations and reflect the priorities of the Gem State," said Senator Risch.
Sage-Grouse Amendment: The continuous cycle of potential listing of the Greater Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has impaired the growth of numerous industries in the West and the operation and use of military training ranges in western states, with impacts on training, readiness, operations and costs. Risch’s amendment would place a ten-year ESA listing exemption on Sage-Grouse for state plans to have a chance to be effective. Following the ten-year period, any decisions regarding a status change for the Greater Sage-Grouse or the Lesser Prairie-Chicken must consider all conservation actions of states, federal agencies, and military installations. Click here to read the amendment.
Monuments Designation Amendment: Current federal law allows the President to designate large tracts of land as National Monuments, resulting in severe use restrictions without any public process or local input. Risch’s amendment would require any new designation to be approved by Congress and the State Legislature where the monument will be located and must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. Risch has cosponsored similar legislation in the Senate: S. 132. Click here to read the amendment.
U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative (USWBSI) Amendment: USWBSI is a grant program at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) for funding research of wheat and barley scab. At the outset, the program had an overhead cost of 5%. Now, due to administrative rules at ARS, 22% of this taxpayer funding is going to administrative overhead at universities instead of research to prevent this disease in wheat and barley. Risch’s amendment caps overhead costs for the USWBSI at 10% to ensure the most effective use of taxpayer dollars on this research that’s critical to so many Idaho farmers.
Click here to read the amendment.