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Farm Bill Clears Senate as September 30th Deadline Looms

Pheasants Forever members and staff recently talked conservation policy with elected officials in Washington, D.C.  (l to r) PF staffer Tom Fuller, PF member Daryl Landsgard of Saint Olaf, Iowa, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, and PF member  Bob Puetz of LeMars, Iowa

Pheasants Forever members and staff recently talked conservation policy with elected officials in Washington, D.C. (Pictured l to r) PF staffer Tom Fuller; PF member Daryl Landsgard of Saint Olaf, Iowa; Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa; and PF member Bob Puetz of LeMars, Iowa (PHOTO BY REHAN NANA)

I am pleased to report the United States Senate passed their version of the 2013 Farm Bill by a vote of 66 to 27 on Monday.  This bill would establish U.S. agricultural policy for the next five years.  Included in the Senate’s bill were:

 

  • Reauthorization of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
  • Reauthorization of the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)
  • Reauthorization of the Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP)
  • A conservation compliance provision re-linking crop insurance premium support to certain conservation practices.
  • A national “Sodsaver” program helping to safeguard native prairies.

 

The Senate’s version of the Farm Bill is good policy for landowners, hunters and conservationists.  Unfortunately, there are a number of steps remaining before this policy can take effect for the benefit of farmers and wildlife.

 

The next step is for the U.S. House of Representatives to take up the Farm Bill on the full House floor.  This step, as you may recall, is exactly where last year’s attempt to push the Farm Bill to completion died on the vine.  Based on the discussion coming out of the House this session, I’m optimistic the Farm Bill will reach the House floor as early as next week.  The House and the Senate titles are relatively similar with the exception of two important policy provisions.  The House’s current bill lacks the conservation compliance connection to crop insurance and has a regional version of “Sodsaver” rather than the national version.  We’re going to continue to work toward influencing the House to include those two important provisions.

 

Consequently, we are asking all Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever members to be on alert as we monitor Farm Bill debate in the House in the coming weeks.  There will likely be a time in the coming days when we sound the alarm and ask all members and hunters to contact their U.S. Representative with a key message about our position on conservation.

 

Unfortunately, there are still three more steps for a new Farm Bill after passage of a bill in the House.  The first of those steps would be a conferencing of the Senate and House Farm Bills together to rectify differences between the two bodies.  Second, the conferenced bill would have to be approved by a full Congressional vote.  And finally, the final bill would have to be signed by the President.

 

Obviously, that’s a lot of steps and the 2008 Farm Bill expires on September 30th.  Congress needs to push this 2013 Farm Bill across the finish line before that deadline is met.  And, another extension to the 2008 Farm Bill would irreversibly change the face of private lands conservation threatening the existence of conservation programs that landowners and hunters have relied on for decades.

 

Stay tuned.

 

The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Government Affairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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