Representatives Huffman and Smith Introduce Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act to Promote Conservation of Public Lands

November 08, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Jared Huffman (D-Calif.)and Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today introduced the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act, which would give grazing permit holders the flexibility to voluntarily waive their permits on federal lands. This legislation will enable smart land-use practices that compensate ranchers at a fair rate and conserve public lands across the country.

“Voluntarily retiring grazing permits to advance conservation goals on public lands shouldn’t be difficult or costly. I’m glad to join Congressman Smith in this legislation to advance conservation and promote smart land-use by giving ranchers the flexibility they need to overcome barriers to voluntary permit retirement,” said Rep. Jared Huffman. “On top of the benefits to permit holders, this will ease grazing pressure on public lands and help natural ecosystems recover and thrive. It’s a win-win-win for taxpayers, ranchers, and the environment.”

“Retiring grazing permits eases grazing pressure on public lands to the benefit of wildlife and surrounding ecosystems, but the current process for ranchers to retire their permits is difficult, confusing, and costly. The legislation I’m introducing today would give ranchers the flexibility to voluntarily waive their grazing permits on federal lands for market value compensation, removing unnecessary hurdles and creating better outcomes for ranchers and public lands,” said Rep. Adam Smith. “The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act will support America’s ranchers and advance environmental goals reflected in the Biden-Harris Administration’s ‘America the Beautiful’ initiative to conserve and restore our lands, waters, and wildlife.”
The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act is endorsed by Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, American Bird Conservancy, Wilderness Watch, Western Watersheds Project, Predator Defense, Horses for Life Foundation, Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, Kettle Range Conservation Group, WildEarth Guardians, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and Oregon Natural Desert Association.


The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act uses market-based incentives to reduce conflicts on federal public lands and increase flexibility for federal grazing permittees. Current laws and regulations either do not allow for the retirement of grazing permits or else they make the process unnecessarily difficult and uncertain.

The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act would allow grazing permit holders the option to voluntarily waive their permits to graze on federal lands in exchange for equitable compensation paid by private parties. The federal agency would then be directed to retire the associated grazing allotment from further grazing activity. The legislation would place a cap on the number of permits that can be retired each year.

The Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act would:

  • Give ranchers more options.
  • Create market-based and voluntary conservation opportunities.
  • Reduce conflicts between livestock, recreation, hunting, wildlife, and more.
  • Allow appropriate local response to drought and climate change.
  • Allow for permanent existing conservation agreements to become permanent.
  • Reduce federal government costs, which are not covered by very low grazing fees.
  • Allow soils and vegetation to sequester carbon, especially in marginal grazing land.
  • Reduce conflict with cougars, grizzly bears, wolves, and coyotes.
  • Reduce disease spread between livestock and wildlife (e.g., bighorn sheep).
  • Help create landscape connectivity for wildlife migration corridors.

A fact sheet for the Voluntary Grazing Permit Retirement Act can be found here.
The bill text can be found here.