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WFBF President Testifies on Endangered Species Reform
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 02/16/2017

The head of the state's largest farm organization was in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday urging lawmakers to take another look at the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act. In congressional testimony, Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Jim Holte told the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that the ESA enforcement fails to provide adequate incentives for species conservation on working lands, while imposing regulatory burdens on agriculture.

Specifically, Holte explained how wolf attacks in Wisconsin have resulted in the loss of farm animals and other wildlife. He said since the animal is considered endangered, the state cannot implement practices to control the wolf population.

"Reform of the ESA should include a focus on species recovery and habitat conservation that respects landowners," Holte told senators who serve on the panel. "Coordination with state wildlife agencies to leverage private, incentive-based conservation efforts can better achieve long-term conservation goals."

Holte, who is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation's board of directors, says the law is ripe for reform because it places a priority on keeping species listed rather than carrying out actual work related to recovery and habitat conservation.

"The costs have been burdensome but the emotional toll and increased stress on the family and animals has been tremendous," Holte said.

Also on Wednesday, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson offered written testimony to the committee. He's introducing legislation that would delist the gray wolf in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Wyoming. Rep. Sean Duffy has sponsored a similar bill in the House.

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