Our blood is in Montana. With over 100 years of combined history of production agriculture, we have a solid understanding of what good stewardship of the land looks like.

We are farmers who have a heritage and vested interest in Montana and what the land provides to our families. We live near the Canadian border and what happens with it impacts us every day in ways most other Montanans don’t see.

We are writing, jointly, in opposition to HR-1505, cosponsored by Congressman Dennis Rehberg which would give unrestricted power to the Department of Homeland Security to block access to leased crop and rangelands while running roughshod over our business operations. Furthermore, HR 1505 will remove the existing incentive for the Border Patrol and Department of Homeland Security to work with landowners, land managers and local communities.

This proposed legislation is unnecessary and quite frankly unhealthy for our

economy, our existing successful partnerships with Homeland Security, and most importantly for our lands (both public and private).

If this bill becomes law, what incentive does my local Border Patrol office have to continue those relationships with the

communities they live in? This top-down approach to managing our borderlands does not lend itself to collaboration. Perhaps the most confusing reality of this federal power grab is that the DHS and US Border Patrol have publicly stated that this type of unrestricted authority over public lands is unnecessary. Congressman Rehberg seems to think that you need a jackhammer to drive nails.

We support the US Border Patrol’s mission to secure our borders. We strongly believe that compliance with existing laws and regulations is key to ensuring the rights of border-area property owners and rural communities are protected as the agency carries out its important mission. Our private property rights however, should never be sacrificed for political expediency or under the vague banner of “national security.” Benjamin Franklin once said “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

History shows that when power is concentrated in one federal agency with no oversight, that power will be abused. Please join us in voicing your opposition to this overreaching power grab and let Congressman Dennis Rehberg know that collaborative efforts work, and top down edicts from on high don’t.

— Arlo Skari and his family have been farming near the Montana border for 40 years. He served on the Liberty County Conservation Board for 12 years and then served on the north central Montana BLM Resource Advisory Council for 6 years.

Joe Perry is a dry land wheat farmer from Brady, a member of the upland game bird council, Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front member, Montana Wildlife Federation board member, founding member of the Montana Sportsmen’s Alliance and a founding member of the Sun River Working Group.

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