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Public policy shapes almost everything about the ownership and management of our working landscapes. From local land-use codes to state wildlife management to federal environmental regulations and farm subsidies to international trade agreements, policy decisions ultimately define our options and our future. As primary stakeholders with deep personal and financial investments in the land, we founded Western Landowners Alliance to ensure that landowners have a direct voice in the policy matters that impact us. We work to ensure that public policies support sustainable stewardship and conservation of the lands and the natural resources in our care.

Policy Updates

NRCS and the 2018 Farm Bill: What’s New

When a new farm bill comes out, there is often a sinking feeling that it’s going to be a lot to swallow and maybe not all of it will be great tasting. Will the same programs be available? And if so, what will be different about them, if anything? What exactly are the programs again?

5 Things We are Grateful for this Thanksgiving

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we’re taking a moment to express our gratitude to some of the things that make our lives as land stewards so rewarding. Landowners and managers have a lot to be thankful for in the West.

WLA Participates in Wyoming Governor’s Migration Corridor Advisory Committee

Western Landowners Alliance (WLA) board member and Wyoming rancher Marissa Taylor and WLA’s policy director Jessica Crowder spent June 8th and 9th participating in Governor Gordon’s Migration Advisory Committee (Committee) in Lander, Wyoming. Governor Gordon appointed Taylor to the Committee to represent agriculture and landowners. Governor Gordon has tasked the Committee with recommendations intended to…

May 2019: Western Landowners Alliance visits Washington D.C.

Last week, several of our members and staff had the opportunity to visit with Congressional staff, federal agencies and national partners in Washington, D.C. This trip was an opportunity to bring the voice of western landowners to the Capital: your stories and experiences are compelling and it is important that lawmakers and agencies hear your…

New Mexico advances work to secure state’s natural resources and agricultural heritage

Abundant, clean water and healthy soils are critical to New Mexico’s future. New Mexico Senate Bill 454 — The New Mexico Agricultural and Natural Resources Trust Fund Act — proposed to create a self-sustaining endowment fund to conserve the state’s natural resources and agricultural heritage. The intent of NM SB454 was to provide funding to…

USDA Conservation Stewardship Program: Applications accepted through May 10

  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for its Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) through May 10, 2019. The CSP is a working lands program that helps landowners sustain and build upon conservation efforts while also improving their business operations. This occurs through support to landowners to implement advanced, comprehensive practices across…

Senate Passes the Natural Resources Management Act

On Tuesday, February 12, the Senate easily passed S47, the Natural Resources Management Act. This large public lands management and conservation package now moves to the House for their consideration. What’s in the Natural Resources Management Act? The package contains several bills from the Senate and took years to develop.  Here are some of the…

Proposed Trust Fund is an Investment in New Mexico’s Future

The New Mexico Agricultural and Natural Resources Trust Fund (NM SB 454), sponsored by Senator Steven Neville of Aztec, New Mexico, seeks to establish an endowment fund to be used to invest in the state’s natural and agricultural resources. New Mexico is facing a diminishing water supply that has impacted—and will continue to impact—the state’s…

House Bill 332: New Mexico Rural Heritage Act

Overview New Mexico House Bill 332, The Rural Heritage Act, keeps land ownership affordable for New Mexico’s families; secures land, water and other natural resources for the future; and contributes positively to local governments and economies. The programs considered under HB 332 will change New Mexico’s property tax structure in a way that keeps agriculturally…

Farm Bill: Wins for Working Lands and Conservation!

For the past three years, Western Landowners Alliance has worked hard and in collaboration with a variety of partners to ensure strong support in the 2018 Farm Bill for working lands in the West. We are pleased to announce that on December 10th, Congress released the 2018 Farm Bill conference report reflecting many of WLA’s…

2014 Farm Bill Expires: what does it mean and what’s next?

After more than a year of work by those most interested in passing an on-time Farm Bill – farmers, ranchers and advocacy groups interested in sustainable agriculture, conservation and forestry – the 2014 Farm Bill expired at midnight on September 30, 2018.  The expiration marks the second time in a row that the Farm Bill…

Calls to Action

1. The Farm Bill Send an email to House Ag Committee Leadership The House and the Senate have both passed their version of the 2018 Farm Bill. A conference committee is working to resolve differences between the two bills to reach a combined, final bill. As the committee works on this important resolution, it is…

WLA attends the Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture summer meeting

  In early August, WLA Executive Director Lesli Allison and WLA Policy Director Jessica Crowder attended the Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture (WASDA) summer meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah.  WASDA is made up of Commissioners, Secretaries and Directors of State Departments of Agriculture from 15 U.S. states and territories.   The meeting…

WLA Policy Call: Potential changes to NEPA regulations

Calling on all WLA members! Monday, August 13th  |  10:00 AM MT The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking related to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The CEQ is considering changes to how it implements regulations for the procedural provisions of NEPA. Through the advance notice, the CEQ…

The Endangered Species Act: WLA Weighs In

On July 2, Senator John Barrasso (R) of Wyoming released draft legislation that would amend the ESA. Several items from this initial draft caught our attention. Here’s a short summary of those items, followed by our assessment. The discussion draft: Provides for actions intended to enhance the federal-state partnership. Our assessment: Increasing the role of…

July 2018 Farm Bill Update

Farm Bill programs are an important tool for landowners. These programs serve to assist landowners in implementing a wide variety of conservation practices that sustain working lands, rural economies, wildlife habitat and populations and other natural resource values. In the West, landowners utilize several Farm Bill programs, especially working lands programs such as the Environmental…

WLA attends CA Rangeland Conservation Coalition Annual Summit

On January 16 and 17, WLA participated in the California Rangelands Conservation Coalition annual meeting in Stockton, CA. Meeting attendees sat for presentations from landowners, producers, government officials and other natural resources leaders on predator policy and management. To conclude the first day of activities, guests were treated to a film festival featuring WLA’s Stewardship With…

WLA Reports Back: Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition Annual Meeting

On December 5, 6 and 7, our policy director, Grant Colvin, represented WLA at the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition (RVCC) annual meeting in Troutdale, Oregon to discuss a range of ecological and economic issues affecting rural communities in the Western US. Grant sat on a Political Realities panel in which he spoke to Farm…
Meeting on sage-grouse conservation

WLA hosts meeting on sage-grouse conservation

The collective efforts of government, private industry, and the nonprofit sector to conserve the greater sage-grouse across 11 Western States—CO, WY, UT, MT, NV, ID, CA, ND, SD, OR and WA—represent the single largest effort species conservation effort in the country’s history. After nearly two decades of discussion and the coordinated implementation of state and…
Federal and state forest policy work

Update on WLA’s federal and state forest policy work

Nearly 8 million acres across western states have burned in 2017, highlighting yet again the urgent need for lawmakers across the West and in Washington, D.C. to push for smart reforms that would allow for enhanced, active forest management and rational funding mechanisms for U.S. Forest Service-led wildfire fighting efforts. WLA has joined a chorus…

Western Water Threatened by Wildfire: It’s Not Just a Public Lands Issue

A report by the American Forest Foundation, highlights the important role states can play in empowering private landowners to protect forested headwaters that supply millions of Westerners with clean water, in the threat of severe drought and wildfires.

Principles for State Water Planning

Many states, including Colorado, New Mexico, and Montana, are implementing statewide Water Planning. WLA drafted and adopted these principles for use by landowners who are engaging in these planning processes throughout the West.

Restoring America’s Rural Economies, Land and Wildlife

WLA’s work is led and informed by experienced landowners and managers who have a vested stake in both the economic and environmental well being of the West’s great landscapes and rural communities. As a nation, it is essential that we reinvest in the land, natural resources and people that sustain us all. Read WLA’s 2017…

Toward a Healthy and Productive West

Five common sense principles endorsed by more than 130 organizations light the path to a better West.

Farm Bill programs cultivate healthy forests in Colorado

Check out the new ColoradoBiz op-ed Farm Bill programs cultivate healthy forests in Colorado by WLA’s ED Lesli Allison on the importance of supporting investment in stewardship of healthy forests and watersheds in Colorado and throughout the West.
WLA 2017 Policy Agenda

WLA 2017 Policy Agenda

A brief overview of WLA’s 2017 policy agenda

USDA Partners with Farmers and Ranchers to Protect More Than 500,000 Acres of Working Grasslands

Nov. 30, 2016 – Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will accept more than 504,000 acres that were offered by producers during the recent ranking period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands enrollment. Through the voluntary CRP Grasslands program, grasslands threatened…

USDA Expands Working-Lands Conservation Opportunities through CRP

Nov. 4, 2016 – Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will offer a new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands practice specifically tailored for small-scale livestock grazing operations. Small livestock operations with 100 or fewer head of grazing dairy cows (or the equivalent)…

USDA Announces McLarty Capital Partners Rural Investment Fund

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the launch of a new private investment fund with the potential to inject $100 million into growth-oriented, small businesses across rural America. The McLarty Capital Partners (MCP) Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) will be the fifth RBIC that USDA has helped to…

USDA, Partners Unveil Sage Grouse Management Map

“The USDA’s NRCS is offering people across the West a handy new tool to help them understand and visualize sage grouse territory. Partnering with the University of Montana and other entities, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has created a new map through the Google Earth Engine, as part of…

How Conservationists Could Have Prevented the Oregon Standoff

TIME.COM, Feb. 4, 2016 – Conservationists and landowners must work together. It didn’t have to happen. One dead, eight in jail, hundreds of thousands of dollars gone to waste—and the root of the problem in Oregon, and indeed the entire West, has not been addressed. The standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was a consequence…

USDA to Invest $150 Million through Conservation Stewardship Program to Help Improve Working Lands

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that $150 million in funding is available for agricultural producers through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), USDA’s largest conservation program, by acres impacted, that helps producers voluntarily improve the health and productivity of private and Tribal working lands. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)…

Most of the U.S. Rented Farmland is Owned by Non-Farmers

  WASHINGTON, Aug 31, 2015 –Agricultural producers rented and farmed 353.8 million acres of farmland, according to the results of the 2014 Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL) survey results released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Of these acres, 80 percent are owned by non-farming landlords.…

USDA Unveils New Strategy to Conserve Sage Grouse Habitat on Private Lands

Department to Invest Additional $211 Million to Help Ranchers Adopt Proven Conservation Methods PORTLAND, Ore., August 27, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a four-year strategy that will invest approximately $211 million through 2018 in conservation efforts to benefit the greater sage grouse. The strategy, known as Sage Grouse Initiative 2.0, will build…

USDA Expands Farm Safety Net, Offers Greater Flexibility for Beginning, Organic and Fruit and Vegetable Growers

Whole Farm Coverage Now Available in Every County Across the Nation WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2015 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that Whole-Farm Revenue Protection insurance will be available in every county in the nation in 2016. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is also making changes to the policy to help farmers…

USDA Announces Conservation Incentives for Working Grass, Range and Pasture Lands

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that beginning Sept. 1, farmers and ranchers can apply for financial assistance to help conserve working grasslands, rangeland and pastureland while maintaining the areas as livestock grazing lands. The initiative is part of the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a federally funded program that…

USDA Energy Biomass Retrieval Incentives to Begin June 30

06/29/2015 01:46 PM EDT Owners of Forestry and Farm Residues Can Apply for Biomass Crop Assistance Program WASHINGTON, June 29, 2015 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini announced today that FSA will begin accepting applications on June 30, 2015, from foresters and farmers seeking financial assistance to harvest…

Webinar to Assist Potential Applicants for Conservation Funding

Regional Conservation Partnership Program to make $235 Million Available to Partners WASHINGTON, June 2, 2015 – An upcoming webinar on the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) will help potential applicants as they seek available funding. During the current round, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest up to $235 million to improve the…

New USDA Portal Enables Farmers, Ranchers to Request Conservation Assistance Online

Washington, D.C. May 27, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners can now do business with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through a new online portal. With today’s launch of Conservation Client Gateway, producers will have the ability to work with conservation planners…

USDA to Expand Investment in Water Conservation, Resilience across Drought-Stricken States

Targeted drought funding builds on substantial drought relief efforts WASHINGTON, May 18, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will invest approximately $21 million in additional Farm Bill dollars to help farmers and ranchers apply science-based solutions to mitigate the short and long term effects of drought.…

USDA Announces $235 Million Available for Innovative New Conservation Partnerships

Local Coalitions Can Now Apply for Funding to Improve Soil Health, Preserve Clean Water, Combat Drought, Protect Wildlife Habitat DENVER, Colo., May 4, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today an investment of up to $235 million to improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural…

USDA’s Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture & Forestry – Fact Sheet

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is announcing a comprehensive and detailed approach to support farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners in their response to climate change. The framework consists of 10 building blocks that span a range of technologies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon storage, and generate clean renewable energy.…

USDA Report Demonstrates Positive Impact of $300 Million Investment in Sage-grouse Conservation

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2015 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today issued a report showing that since 2010 USDA and its partners in the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) have worked with private landowners to restore 4.4 million acres of habitat for sage-grouse while maintaining working landscapes across the West. USDA also announced today…

USDA Invests $18 Million to Train Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

New Orleans, LA – Feb. 2, 2015 – Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden (USDA) announced more than $18 million in grants to educate, mentor, and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers. The grants are available through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) administered by the National…

USDA Seeks Public Comment on New Environmental Quality Incentives Program Rule

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is publishing a rule that outlines how it will improve the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), one of USDA’s largest conservation programs. The interim final rule includes program changes authorized by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA has established a 60-day comment period for…

USDA Announces Measures to Help Farmers Diversify Weed Control Efforts

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2014 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced several steps that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking to address the increase of herbicide resistant weeds in U.S. agricultural systems. “Weed control in major crops is almost entirely accomplished with herbicides today,” said Vilsack. “USDA, working in collaboration with the Environmental…

USDA Expands Access to Credit to Help More Beginning and Family Farmers

Changes Increase Eligibility and Financing Options for Hard Working Families WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2014 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will improve farm loans by expanding eligibility and increasing lending limits to help more beginning and family farmers. As part of this effort, USDA is raising…

USDA Partners with States, Tribes to Improve Public Access on Private Lands

USDA announces $20 million in grants to protect wildlife, enhance outdoor recreation and create rural business opportunities WASHINGTON, August 7, 2014—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today that the Department of Agriculture will partner with nine State agencies and with the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation to increase recreational and economic opportunities on…

USDA Extends Deadline for the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program

07/31/2014 02:24 PM EDT WASHINGTON, July 31, 2014 — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia announced today that the enrollment deadline for the 2012 and 2013 Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) has been extended to Aug. 15, 2014. Originally, program sign-up was scheduled…

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Announces Progress on 2014 Farm Bill Implementation

Significant Action Taken on All Bill Titles in First Eight Weeks Since Enactment   WASHINGTON, April 3, 2014— Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced significant progress on implementing the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill), which President Obama signed into law on February 7. The 2014 Farm Bill reforms agricultural policy, reduces the…

USDA Announces Efforts to Expand Support for Small and Mid-Sized Farmers and Ranchers

SANTE FE, N.M., March 10, 2014 –Today in remarks at the National Farmers Union National Convention, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new and expanded efforts to connect small- and mid-sized farmers and ranchers with USDA resources that can help them build stronger businesses, expand to reach new and larger markets, and grow their operations. “The recent Census…

USDA, EPA Partnership Supports Water Quality Trading To Benefit Environment, Economy

 December 3, 2013   WASHINGTON – The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have announced an expanded partnership to support water quality trading and other market-based approaches that provide benefits to the environment and economy.”New water quality trading markets hold incredible potential to benefit rural America by providing new…

Payments for Popular Conservation Program Ready Following Shutdown Delay

Contact: Jody Holzworth (202) 720-3210 WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2013 – Farmers waiting for their Conservation Security or Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) payments should receive them in the coming days. The shutdown of the federal government delayed some of the $907 million in payments from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to CSP participants who have…

Policy Platform

2017 WLA Policy Flyer

WLA Policy Platform Flyer

As the owners and managers of private and leased public lands throughout the West, we created the Western Landowners Alliance to advance excellence in the stewardship of these resources. This flyer provides a visual overview of our priorities and policy platform.

Restoring America’s Rural Economies, Land and Wildlife

WLA’s work is led and informed by experienced landowners and managers who have a vested stake in both the economic and environmental well being of the West’s great landscapes and rural communities. As a nation, it is essential that we reinvest in the land, natural resources and people that sustain us all. Read WLA’s 2017 policy platform to learn more.

Policy Resources

Forests and Ranges

Forest and Range

WLA brings the experience, values and interests of the best stewards in the West to public policies that affect private and public working forests and rangeland.



WLA provides a direct voice in water resource policy for landowners committed to the conservation and wise management of water, which is critical to the West’s future.



WLA promotes policies that provide flexibility and economic support, enabling landowners to meet the needs of both wildlife and people.

From The Blog


WLA works to provide landowners a say in designing commonsense policies that ensure healthy lands and robust communities.



Robust rural economics are essential to keeping our remaining lands intact and under family ownership.


Stronger Together

Place-based collaboration is the foundation for successful, enduring stewardship. Together, we are building a healthier and more productive West.

Leadership from the Land

Founded, led and inspired by landowners and practitioners working to create a better West.



Bringing landowner perspectives and stories to bear on major issues shaping the West.



WLA’s peer network and shared knowledge base is designed for landowners striving to keep the land whole and healthy.



Advancing pragmatic, common ground solutions that sustain working lands, connected landscapes and native species.

Stay up to date on policy changes and new developments.

Western Landowners Alliance will send you the latest developments and policy updates important to the economic and ecological health of working lands.

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