As Senate Deliberates Farm Bill, Sportsmen Stand up for Conservation Funding
Sportsmen leaders speak out in support of responsible private lands management,
increased public access as funding for wide-ranging measure is weighed
WASHINGTON – As the Senate Agriculture Committee deliberates the 2012 Farm Bill, legislation critical to the conservation of the nation’s agricultural and private lands, leaders of a sportsmen’s coalition are underscoring the economic value of these programs to fish, wildlife and hunting and angling, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership announced today.
This morning’s hearing on Capitol Hill features Department of Agriculture officials, farmers and sportsmen speaking out in support of strongly funded conservation programs in the 2012 Farm Bill. Members of the TRCP Agriculture and Wildlife Working Group, which advocates on behalf of sensible and successful farm conservation programs, highlighted measures – such as the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program and Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program – of greatest value to sportsmen.
“American sportsmen remind our Senate leaders that conservation components of the Farm Bill, in addition to safeguarding valuable fish and wildlife habitat and our outdoor traditions, support farmers and other private landowners across the country,” said Dave Nomsen, vice president of government affairs for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, AWWG members. “The 25-year-old Conservation Reserve Program remains a cornerstone of the Farm Bill, helping landowners run economically sustainable operations and securing the responsible long-term management of millions of acres of privately owned lands.”
Sportsmen commended a decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this month to open a general signup for the CRP, which incentivizes farmers and ranchers to plant ground cover that bolsters soil, water and wildlife and to install filter strips and riparian buffers, reducing sediment and chemical runoff and enhancing fisheries.
“The Wetlands Reserve Program is one of the most successful federal conservation programs in the nation,” said Dan Wrinn, director of public policy for Ducks Unlimited, an AWWG member. “The continental United States already has lost more than half of its wetlands. Prompt action by the Senate is crucial in arresting this loss and conserving what remains of this irreplaceable habitat by including permanent reauthorization of WRP in the next Farm Bill.”
The WRP provides a voluntary, non-regulatory approach for the protection and restoration of wetlands on privately owned lands and has drawn the longstanding support of groups such as Ducks Unlimited, which is presenting testimony at today’s hearing.
“Access to places to hunt and fish is a growing problem for sportsmen all across the country, and the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, also known as Open Fields, was established in the 2008 Farm Bill due in part to the sustained efforts of sportsmen,” said Jennifer Mock Schaeffer, Farm Bill coordinator for the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and AWWG chair. “Farm Bill conservation programs are critical to the more than $95 billion in economic activity annually contributed by hunting and angling. VPA-HIP must be reauthorized and fully funded to continue to provide new outdoor opportunities for citizens as well as economic security to rural communities.”
“The Farm Bill is a vital segment of U.S. private lands conservation,” said Steve Kline, director of the TRCP Center for Agricultural and Private Lands. “Millions of acres of fish and wildlife habitat and the hunting and fishing opportunities they provide have been conserved and enhanced through the Farm Bill conservation title. Hunters and anglers are committed to ensuring the future of these keystone programs as the 2012 Farm Bill is finalized.”
Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations
and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions
of hunting and fishing.
Katherine K. McKalip
Director of Media Relations
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership