The recent Water Rights Protection Act (H.R. 2939), introduced in the House on Tuesday June 20th, could bring U.S. ranchers much-needed relief from ongoing efforts by the federal government to extort privately owned water rights from law-abiding citizens.
H.R. 2939, if passed, would bar the federal government from seizing state-granted water rights from ranchers and restore basic property rights to them. The legislation would also include:
- Prohibit agencies from demanding transfer of privately held water rights to the federal government in exchange for federal land use permits or other things
- Maintain federal deference to state water law
- Maintain environmental safeguards already in place
The importance of this bill passing is crucial as in recent years federal land managers in the West have increasingly demanded that the ranches who work the land surrender their water rights to the government, or leave.
“It’s time to put a stop to federal strong-arming of ranchers by a government that owns the majority of the land for grazing west of the Mississippi” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “ Water is the most valuable resource for every farmer and rancher. Unfortunately, the federal tactics we’ve seen in recent years have little to do with conservation and everything to do with big government control.”
All citizens have a right to their lawful water rights and protecting farmers who provide the necessary food, fuel and fiber for the U.S. is crucial in order to keep up with the increasing demand.