Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

December 1999


Published for Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XVI December 14, 15 and 16, 1999 - Greeley, Colorado.


Unfortunately, in today's world, ranchers are feeling the frustration portrayed in the above story. On a daily basis, the agriculture community is being over run by zealots from the federal government who are enforcing such things as the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, and on, and on, and on. More and more time and expense are being required to deal with these issues, all the while, fears of being able to make management decisions on the ranch are being threatened.

This seems to be particularly true of all ranches in the West. Secretary of Interior, Bruce Babbitt, has been quoted in a speech in Montana as saying that "the greatest mistake the federal government ever made was in allowing the states the right to appropriate water." He understands, as we all do, that if you can control the water in the West, you literally control the West. Since the authority for the adjudication of water has clearly been given to the state, this administration has attacked that authority not through water quantity issues, but rather through water quality issues. We have seen in the recent past, a constant barrage of regulations trying to regulate water quality in the states with the notion that the Clean Water Act trumps the state authority over water quantity. We have seen attempts to control non-point source pollution, to regulate water temperature, or to dictate terms for animal feeding operations. Many of us have feared that it was just a matter of time until the water quality debate would run head long into the water quantity issues. That is beginning now to happen.