FAIRBURY, NE — A southeast Nebraska county board is pushing back against a section of a presidential executive order.
On Tuesday, the Jefferson County Commissioners discussed a draft of a resolution opposing the so-called 30 x 30 program, which was part of an executive order issued by President Joe Biden during his first week in office.
The order directs Cabinet members to develop a plan to “achieve the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.”
Commissioner Mark Schoenrock says the order is an example of federal government overreach.
“These kind of efforts are best addressed by a local government where we have citizen input where the rubber hits the road and we can make decisions that are best for our local area rather than something being forced upon us from Washington D.C,” Schoenrock said.
The order doesn’t define what it means by “conserving.” It directs the Secretary of Agriculture to develop a strategy to encourage the voluntary adoption of climate-smart practices. It says those practices should result in carbon reduction and source sustainable bioproducts and fuels.
The Jefferson County Commissioners are concerned the order could allow the government to seize land, which they say would devastate the local ag-based economy.
“Our farmers depend on that land for their crop production," Schoenrock said. "Our ranchers depend on that land for pastures for livestock production, you look at the potential tax effects that would have - it takes land out of tax-paying land to support local government.”
In a call with reporters last week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the order doesn’t involve taking land, instead it focuses on expanding voluntary conservation programs.
Schoenrock says the county already has good land conservation practices. He says it’s offensive to portray ag producers as a detriment to the environment.
“If you’re a farmer or a rancher, you are probably the best environmentalist of all," Schoenrock said. "You want to take care of the land because that land takes care of you.”
The order set Tuesday as a deadline for Cabinet members to file reports with the National Climate Task Force. Here in Fairbury, the Commissioners plan to pass their resolution next week.