LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska Farmers Union was joined today by leaders from three conservation organizations to release the findings of a new public opinion poll that shows overwhelming support from Nebraska voters for conservation programs, including the national goal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.
The poll conducted by the Republican polling firm New Bridge Strategy found that more than three-quarters of Nebraska voters support the “America the Beautiful” initiative, a national effort that has set a goal to conserve 30 percent of land and waters in the U.S. by the year 2030 (30×30). Majorities across all parties support the national 30×30 targets, including 64 percent support among Nebraska Republicans, 90 percent support among Democrats, and 88 percent support among Independents.
The poll found a strong majority (62 percent) of Nebraska voters think that the 30×30 America the Beautiful goal would be “good for Nebraska,” 18 percent thought it would “have little impact on Nebraska,” and only 16 percent said it would “be bad for Nebraska.”
President Biden’s aspirational Executive Order setting national 30×30 conservation goals utilizing local input and voluntary conservation programs has become a partisan target of land conservation opponents and some elected public officials. The Biden Administration has renamed the 30×30 initiative the “America the Beautiful” initiative.
The Biden administration has described the initiative as a “decade-long effort to support locally led and voluntary conservation and restoration efforts.” In Nebraska, this includes traditional and highly used federal conservation programs like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), among others.
New Bridge Strategy conducted the survey of 501 registered voters throughout Nebraska from April 8-13, 2022. Interviews were conducted via live telephone interviews and online, with interviews distributed proportionally throughout the state and quotas set for key demographic sub-groups, such as gender and age. Click through for the full survey and PowerPoint presentation with demographic breakouts.
The poll finds that Nebraska voters across the political spectrum – and across the state from Omaha to Scottsbluff – are broadly supportive of conservation programs that are the foundation of the “America the Beautiful” initiative.
- 85 percent of Nebraska voters believe more needs to be done to protect land, water, and wildlife habitat here in the state. Over one-third believe “a lot” more needs doing.
- 97 percent say that conserving working farms and ranches is important to them, in part because 98 percent say it is important to conserve land in Nebraska to protect and encourage local food production.
- 97 percent say that conserving wildlife habitat is important to them, with 75 percent saying it is extremely important.
- Nearly all Nebraska voters—95 percent—support allowing landowners to utilize voluntary conservation programs on their property, enabling them to keep farms and ranches in agricultural use or as wildlife habitat into the future.
- 89 percent say that landowners have the right to make permanent decisions about the use of their land, including 94 percent of Republicans.
- 90 percent would encourage the governor to support these voluntary conservation programs that conserve land as working farms and ranches or wildlife habitat for future generations.
Pollster New Bridge Strategy: “Partisanship is an inescapable reality across American politics today. But in Nebraska, conserving land, soil, and wildlife remains one of those rare areas of broad agreement, where Republicans and Democrats, rural Nebraskans and urban Nebraskans, and people young and old are aligned. Nebraska voters overwhelming support voluntary conservation programs, and feel it is important to preserving the state’s agricultural lands, wildlife habitat, and lands that are threatened by development.” — Lori Weigel, founder and principal at New Bridge Strategy
Poll Partner Quotes:
Nebraska Farmers Union: “Nebraska farmers and ranchers have enthusiastically embraced and used voluntary federal conservation programs since they were first created in response to the 1930’s Dust Bowl. They trust and utilize traditional voluntary conservation programs to protect our precious soil and water resources on our working lands for future generations. They also use these programs to protect many of our state’s privately owned sensitive and unique environmental areas.
Nebraska is one of our nation’s largest users of federal conservation programs, and thanks to our state’s unique system of Natural Resource Districts, also a national leader in state conservation program utilization. Our statewide poll shows Nebraskans overwhelmingly support voluntary conservation programs, and landowner driven decision making over the future use of their lands. Nebraska’s agricultural interests are best served by having a seat at the national conservation issues table, not peddling misinformation about the voluntary nature of federal conservation programs.” — John Hansen, President, Nebraska Farmers Union
Nebraska Land Trust: “In our state, we often talk about doing things the ‘Nebraska Way’ by working with others to accomplish more than we can by going it alone. This is how conservation gets done in Nebraska. Landowners partner with Natural Resource Districts, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Services Administration, and NGOs to achieve goals that feel right for their family’s land. We hope to see more details on America the Beautiful and believe it has the potential to provide additional opportunities and economic incentives for private land conservation. This may simply mean additional funding for traditional voluntary federal Farm Bill programs that have been around for decades and receive strong bipartisan support in Congress.
The current poll from New Bridge Strategies shows that the vast majority of Nebraskans agree with this voluntary approach. It also shows that those who oppose voluntary conservation programs are out of the state and national mainstream. Nebraska and agriculture have a role to play in shaping any new initiative, so everyone should focus on how we can work together, be at the table and make sure that America the Beautiful works with landowners the ‘Nebraska Way.’” — Dave Sands, Executive Director, Nebraska Land Trust
The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska: “Together, we can do what Nebraskans have always done – find common ground, and care for the land that takes care of us… and feeds and fuels the world. We all want a future that includes treasured moments outside – hunting, fishing, hiking, and all the ways we enjoy our rich natural heritage. Nebraskans are interested in doing more for our natural resources and the people who rely on them. America the Beautiful can help us get there.” — Katie Torpy, Director of External Affairs, The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska
“The Nebraska Wildlife Federation is pleased with landowners’ overwhelming support for conservation on their lands. The recent conservation polling results further solidify what we have known for a long time – Nebraska landowners support adding conservation measures to their operations and are strong supporters of various voluntary conservation programs that help protect wildlife and wildlife habitat. Also, landowners support permanent and long-term conservation on their lands that add value to their operations and local communities. Despite efforts to portray Nebraska landowners as anti-conservation, a strong conservation ethic exists among Nebraskans!” — George Cunningham, Nebraska Wildlife Federation
About the Poll Partners:
New Bridge Strategy
New Bridge Strategy is a Republican opinion research company. The firm specializes in public policy and campaign research. NBS has been a member of bipartisan research teams and led coalitions across the political spectrum in crafting winning ballot measure campaigns, public education campaigns, and legislative policy efforts. New Bridge Strategy helps clients bridge divides to create winning majorities.
Nebraska Farmers Union
Nebraska Farmers Union is a non-partisan general farm organization with 3,841 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities. Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives and is a state leader in renewable energy development, healthy soils, and soil and water conservation.
Nebraska Land Trust
The Nebraska Land Trust (NLT) works with landowners to foster the protection of agricultural, historical and natural resources in Nebraska. NLT relies on partnerships and voluntary efforts and strives to keep Nebraska’s agricultural lands working and producing.
The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. We have worked in Nebraska for nearly 50 years, and we currently own and manage over 66,000 acres of land in the form of nature preserves and working ranches. We collaborate with diverse partners to scale conservation practices that conserve soil and improve profitability for working lands.
Nebraska Wildlife Federation
The Nebraska Wildlife Federation’s mission is to promote Nebraska’s wildlife and wild places through outdoor education, fish and wildlife conservation, and public policy. We are the state affiliate of National Wildlife Federation, the nation’s largest member-supported wildlife organization.
— Nebraska Farmers Union