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Florida Cattle Rancher Testifies in Senate EPW on ESA Modernization

Clint Thompson Cattle

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On Wednesday, cattle rancher Liesa Priddy from Immokalee, Florida testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC). Priddy told Southeast AgNet’s Randall Weiseman that she supports S.4589, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Amendments of 2020.

WASHINGTON (Sept. 23, 2020) – Florida rancher Liesa Priddy testified on Wednesday before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC), to give her support to S.4589, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Amendments of 2020, and highlight why this bill is desperately needed to modernize ESA.

“We are all concerned about what would happen if the ESA weren’t effective, but I think in large part – we’re already there,” said Priddy. “The ESA has achieved some significant and popular recovery efforts – the bald eagle and the manatee are just two examples, but thousands more species have languished on the list due to lack of attention and a system that just hasn’t worked for them,”

Priddy backed the legislation introduced by EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R – Wyo), that empowers states to lead recovery efforts and gives stakeholders, like ranchers, who make significant investments in voluntary conservation a more meaningful seat at the table in recovery discussions.

“I fully support your proposal to allow states to lead recovery teams during the ESA process. States have primacy over wildlife management, meaning they bear sole responsibility for ensuring laws, science, and partnerships are in place to have robust populations. In cases where a species needs additional assistance, states’ knowledge, authorities, and partnerships are still valuable. Allowing states to demonstrate that leadership recognizes their broad capacity to manage, and provides certainty to ranchers like me who have invested in conservation activities long before an ESA listing was contemplated.”

Priddy thanked Chairman Barrasso for his work to provide a clear path to recovery by improving the information available to the agencies, providing a clear framework to achieve recovery goals, and supporting a delisting decision once recovery goals have been met.

“By supporting other key functions of the Act, like the 5-year post-delisting monitoring period, the bill also recognizes that delisting is a key recovery objective. Through the recovery process, states and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service make ongoing investments that plan for the future. Those plans are developed by experts, and are implemented by experts. Like you, I have confidence that states have the capacity and expertise to manage recovered species and the integrity of those management plans should be supported…I believe this bill will be better for ranchers, better for states, better for the federal authorities, and better for the species. Thank you for inviting me to share my experience.”