Conservation’s Black Monday
Last Saturday, I attended the Rally for Iowa’s Outdoor Legacy held in Des Moines. The event was designed to promote awareness for the importance of wildlife conservation in the midst of the highly charged agricultural production environment we’re living through these days. After all, outdoor recreation including hunting and fishing, are a big part of the quality of life in Iowa and across rural America.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack spoke at the luncheon. As part of his address, Secretary Vilsack announced the state-specific reallocations of 400,000 acres for the Conservation Reserve Program’s wildlife-targeting SAFE (State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement) practice. In fact, 50,000 of those acres were allocated to Iowa.
Unfortunately, this reallocation comes with one enormous asterisk*. As of today, October 1st, all new CRP and WRP enrollments have ground to a halt because of the U.S. House of Representative’s failure to act on a Farm Bill this year.
According to Wikipedia, Black Monday in the world of finance refers to Monday October 19, 1987, when stock markets around the world crashed, shedding a huge value in a very short time. In the world of wildlife conservation, October 1, 2012 can equally be referenced as Black Monday. As of midnight last night, the 2008 Farm Bill officially ended. Beginning today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ability to enroll landowners in new CRP or new WRP contracts has been paralyzed. Additionally, 6.5 Million acres of Conservation Reserve Program lands expired last night. Again, there are no current options for re-enrollment or sign-up in alternative programs. Our elected officials have failed. It’s plain, simple and infuriating.
That’s where you come in. Before you head afield in the coming weeks, please check your own U.S. Rep’s position on the Farm Bill. Your turn to make your voice for conservation heard comes in a month when we all exercise our right to vote. Make your vote count for conservation this November 6th. Thanks for your help and good hunting.
The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Government Relations.
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