The U.S. House on Thursday voted 220-194 to approve the Public Access and Land Improvement Act, which contains the Grazing Improvement Act.
The bill was debated during the last session of Congress in both the House and Senate; it passed the House with bipartisan support as part of the Conservation and Economic Growth Act.
The Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association offered support for the bill, which they say will limit uncertainty caused by the grazing permit renewal process.
Brice Lee, PLC president, says the legislation will add stability to federal lands ranching businesses. It will alter the livestock grazing permitting process on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service.
"By increasing the term of grazing permits from 10 to 20 years, ranchers will have certainty that their operations will remain in business and continue to operate without the fear of losing their permits on process-based grounds," Lee explained.
Related: Grazing Can Make Riparian Areas Better Or Worse (Commentary)
The bill also includes two amendments PLC and NCBA support
The first, offered by Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., and Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, added language which would allow the Secretary to consolidate environmental reviews, while clarifying the definition of current grazing management, and ensuring a timely response for temporary trailing and crossing applications.
The second amendment, offered by Labrador, requires the non-prevailing, not directly-affected party in a challenge to the Secretary's final grazing decision to pay the directly-affected prevailing party incurred fees and expenses and clarifies the definition of a directly-affected party.
NCBA President Scott George said that the bill will provide security for producers while the BLM and USFS work through the backlog of permits renewals and environmental analysis.
"The language added today regarding payment of legal fees would go a long way in reducing the endless stream of lawsuits aimed at removing livestock from federal lands," George commented.