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Senate Sabotaging Sportsmen’s Act, Hope for a 2012 Farm Bill

Thanks to ineffectiveness of the U.S. Congress, storm clouds continue to gather over bird hunters’ future ability to put a bird in their game vest.

I’ve spent the majority of the week in Washington, D.C. working on a variety of our conservation priorities; including the Sportsmen’s Act, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and of course the federal Farm Bill.

A few weeks ago, I watched an episode of the television news program 60 minutes focused on our political leaders’ desire to return to the statesmanship and bi-partisan cooperation of a bi-gone era.   I watched those Senators on camera and felt a renewed sense of hope.  This week’s visit to our nation’s capital made it clear those intentions were nothing more than a political façade.

Sportsman’s Act

This bill is an incredible compilation of hunter’s favorites in need of Congressional action.  It contains habitat programs like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Fish & Wildlife Service’s Partners Program, and a host of other policies that would provide wildlife habitat and public hunting access.

Leading up to this week’s debate, the bill enjoyed the support of virtually every single hunting and wildlife conservation organization in the country; organizations representing millions of Americans.  The measure garnered strong bi-partisan support during early procedural votes to move the measure forward through Congress.  Yet, in the final hours, one single Senator raising a budget point of order brought the entire package down leaving it smoldering like a burned South Dakota cattail slough.

The point of order Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions raised focused on an increase to the price of the Federal Duck Stamp – a measure we support along with our friends at Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl.  The federal duck stamp has been an incredibly successful program in place since the ‘30’s and is desperately in need of additional revenues to keep pace with skyrocketing land prices.  The proposed increase in revenues from the wallets of willing waterfowlers and wetlands enthusiasts provided the ridiculously miniscule technicality allowing Senator Sessions to derail the entire bill.  Last minute attempts to resolve the  revenue issue by Senator Jon Tester working across the aisle with others including Senator John Thune using Thune’s sodsaver provision savings proved too little too late.  Even with resolution at this point Senator Boxer was prepared to intervene as well – all of this coming after nearly unanimous votes of 84 and 92 supporting passage.

 

Farm Bill

Several of our favorite Farm bill conservation programs remain closed to enrollment, pending action by Congress as well.  Leadership from both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees continue to press for pathways to complete action on the full five-year bill that has passed the full Senate and House Committee.  Several options remain possible including attaching the measure to end of the year legislation related to the fiscal cliff or extension of existing law for a shorter term.  House leadership offices have indicated that the measure will be acted upon in some fashion.

Take Action

Call on your elected Representative and both of your Senators right now.  Tell them to get it done on the Sportsmen’s Act, tell them to get it done on a comprehensive five-year farm bill, and most of all tell them to get it done on the fiscal cliff.  It’s time to forgo actions based upon an R or D behind names and to act together as Americans.  Help us urge Congress to expedite actions before the lame duck session ends.

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4 Responses to “Senate Sabotaging Sportsmen’s Act, Hope for a 2012 Farm Bill”

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  1. Allen says:

    You say a lot that contradicts common sense and I’d love for you to clarify why you think that a TRILLION dollar (with a T) Farm Bill is going to help with the fiscal cliff. Most of that money feeds the “Food Stamps” entitlement program, acts as welfare to farmers that don’t need the money and it will artificially raise the price of milk while hurting small farmers. When those small “friendly farms” have gone under where will you hunt and how much more will it cost?

    If the Sportsman’s Act of 2012 can’t be passed as a stand alone bill then there’s no reason to attach it to a bad bill that will increase the deficit and ruin the economy.

    There’s no reason to believe that one of Hunting’s and Gun Owner’s most consistent enemies, Barbara Boxer (D-Gun Control), will allow the Sportsman’s Act to remain intact once the Farm Bill has passed. It’s just not a “done deal”.

    Please check out this analysis before replying: http://www.heritage.org/research/factsheets/2012/09/farm-bill.

    The best way for hunters to get what they want is to allow farmers more room to prosper and work with them via Pheasants Forever and other hunting groups to gain access to more land and work towards sustainable habitat. It would be foolhardy to accept the adage there’s no difference between “teams” in Congress. You just have to have a better working relationship with the ones who have your best interests, and the Nation’s best interests at heart. Push them hard if you need to to achieve the results we need, but at least one will really work with you instead of giving you lip service to obtain their goals while stabbing you in the back.

    I’ll give you a hint. The best party’s name doesn’t start with a D.

    One more subtle point. When the cost of anything rises it tends to reduce the number of people who will invest. Do you want more hunters to safeguard the future of hunting or do you think the cost of a license should go up indefinitely?

  2. john karecki says:

    I love to hunt pheasants but not at the price of my children’s future by borrowing money from China to pay for the Farm bill and CRP! We have a $16 trillion dollar debt in this country and we cannot afford to borrow any more money. Currently CRP does not even allow public access even though it is being funded by our tax money. All the money that was spent since the 1980′s to fund CRP could have been used to purchase the land outright instead of just renting it and providing farmers with their own hunting preserves. This would also have allowed permanent public access to the land. Instead we have a temporary type approach with the CRP program that when the money is gone, the fields of big blue stem and switch grass get plowed and put back into crop production and where back to square one – no habitat!

  3. Chris Hitzeman - UGUIDE South Dakota Pheasant Hunting says:

    Dave, nice report on where things are at. I feel your pain on the sportsmans act. So close!

    I appreciate your efforts on all these fronts and thanks for fighting the conservation fight for all of us.

    The country has tight budgets these days so hopefully out of all this analysis of programs and policies out of it will come the best use of taxpayers monies. Clean air and water don’t come free either.

  4. John Thiel says:

    Rather than being divided by party on gun control, sportsmen need to band together to protect habitat. There are lots of democrats who are sportsmen and lots of republicans who are not. If republican sportsmen and democratic sportsmen could just be sportsmen together, habitat, hunting and conservation would all benefit. I don’t really think gun contol on assault weapons would decrease gun violence or that gun control on assault weapons would hurt me as a sportsman. The issue just divides us. I am appalled at all the political mailings making the President sound like an enemy to sportsmen. The far end of the Republican party is just using conservative leaning sportsmen to further their agenda while dividing us as sportsmen so our common priorities are not met. Both parties, including Barbara Boxer can help us if we don’t let the gun control issue to divide us. Assault weapons are not for sportsmen and gun contol doesn’t work. Let’s just forget it all and protect our hunting rights and habitat.

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