Posts Tagged ‘crp’

Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists Ready to Help Landowners Enroll in CRP

Monday, June 9th, 2014

CCRP

Last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that today, Monday, June 9th, the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) would re-open to landowners. CRP had been closed since October 2013. The new Farm Bill signed in February set the stage for the continuation of the program and today’s re-opening.

From the USDA’s Press Release:

CRP consists of a “continuous” and “general” sign-up period. Continuous sign up for the voluntary program starts June 9. Under continuous sign-up authority, eligible land can be enrolled in CRP at any time with contracts of up to 10 to 15 years in duration. In lieu of a general sign-up this year, USDA will allow producers with general CRP contracts expiring this September to have the option of a one-year contract extension.

This is big news for hunters. For nearly three decades, CRP has been the gold-standard of habitat across pheasant country. During the “good ole days” of 2007 and 2008, 32 million CRP acres were responsible for producing pheasant populations not seen since the 1960’s in many core pheasant states. We all know what’s happened in the handful of years since. Commodity prices skyrocketed and land values followed. In turn, CRP acres crashed and pheasant number tumbled.

Today, there are signs the pendulum is swinging back toward a less volatile market with commodity prices leveling off and conservation programs offering a viable alternative for many farmers and ranchers. Indeed, every farm in America could be more profitable and financially secure with a mix of conservation practices – buffers, wetlands, field borders, etc. – in harmony with row crop production. As the saying goes, “farm the best, conserve the rest.” Additionally, USDA has updated soil rental rates for Continuous CRP practices, which should help make these programs increasingly more competitive with alternative land use options.

The key to finding a successful conservation recipe for success on your land is receiving expert advice from a trusted professional. Pheasants Forever, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s NRCS and FSA, along with state natural resource agencies across the pheasant range, is proud to employ more than 100 Farm Bill Biologists. These trained experts are skilled at figuring out the variety of conservation practices your land qualifies for, while also being aware of the myriad of ways to find cost-share options to make enrolling an attractive financial and ethical opportunity.  In fact, Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists have helped landowners enroll more than 4 million acres into conservation programs since 2003.

Find the Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist in your area by following this link. If there doesn’t happen to be a PF Farm Bill Biologist near you, the folks at your local USDA Service Center should also be able to help answer your questions about CRP.

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

Farm Bill Headed to President’s Desk Thanks to Senate Passage

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

IMG_2954

After being passed by the House last week, today the Senate approved the Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly known as the farm bill. The legislation is now headed to President Obama’s desk.

If signed into law by the president, the bill would:

  • Reauthorize the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), including a change to the program that will allow for the enrollment of up to 2 million grassland acres with no cropping history that have never been eligible for CRP enrollment historically.
  • Re-link conservation compliance to crop insurance, deterring wetland drainage.
  • Create a regional “Sodsaver” to protect our country’s last remaining native prairies where it is most threatened – South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Montana and Nebraska.
  • Approve $40 million in funding for Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Programs (VPA-HIP). Commonly referred to as “Open Fields,” this funding would improve sportsmen’s access while helping improve wildlife conservation efforts.
  • Allocate more than $1 billion allocated for a new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, including provisions targeting wetlands and grasslands.
  • Consolidate U.S. Department of Agriculture programs from 23 to 13, improving delivery of these programs to interested landowners.

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever urge the president to sign the bill, and look forward to using these new tools to create wildlife habitat.

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

U.S. House Passes Farm Bill

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

The Farm Bill provides critical conservation tools to America's farmers, ranchers and conservationists.

The farm bill provides critical conservation tools to America’s farmers, ranchers and conservationists.

A few minutes ago, by a vote of 251 to 166 the United States House of Representatives passed the Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly known as the farm bill.  The bill now awaits Senate action.  All indications are the Senate will act on the bill shortly.

The farm bill, if signed into law, will make substantial changes to conservation policies and programs.  Included are needed policy changes to conservation compliance and provisions to protect native prairies from conversion in six states (N.D., S.D., Minn., Iowa, Neb., Mont.).  U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs are consolidated from 23 to 13.  Included is re-authorization of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) at 24 million acres, a new agricultural conservation easement program, and working lands conservation programs. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are in support of the passage of this farm bill and look forward to using these new tools to create wildlife habitat.

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

Farm Bill Agreement Reached, Awaits House Vote

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

After a long two years of debate, a new Farm Bill appears to be on the horizon.

After a long two years of debate, a new Farm Bill appears to be on the horizon.

Yesterday, the long-anticipated farm bill showed signs of life as House and Senate conferees reached a bipartisan agreement to move the bill forward.  In fact, the House may have a vote on the farm bill by the end of Wednesday.  After clearing the House, the bill will move to the Senate.

The bill addresses Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s top grassland and wildlife priorities including the following:

  • Conservation compliance connected to crop insurance.
  • A regional “Sodsaver” to protect our country’s last remaining native prairies.  States included are South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Montana, and Nebraska.  We are pleased to have these important tools to protect America’s last remaining virgin prairies available in these critical pheasant states right away.
  • Reauthorization of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).  While the total authorization of acres will gradually decrease to 24 million acres by FY18, we do have some new tools included to help us target the most environmentally sensitive acres that will best produce water, soil and wildlife benefits.  In fact, one particular change to CRP will allow us to enroll up to 2 million grassland acres with no cropping history that have never been eligible for CRP enrollment historically.
  • $40 million in funding for voluntary public hunting access programs (VPA-HIP).
  • A new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program including provisions targeting wetlands and grasslands.

It’s been an arduous two year road to get us to this point.  I won’t pretend this Farm Bill is going to be perfect by anyone’s standards; however, it does address our core conservation concerns.  The danger in not passing a farm bill at this point would be catastrophic for wildlife and water quality as all our favorite conservation programs, like CRP, would be shut down for the foreseeable future. Given the current state of habitat loss, our nation’s wildlife cannot withstand additional time without access to conservation programs.  Let’s get this farm bill passed and begin working on returning habitat back to the landscape this spring.

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

ACTION ALERT: Finish the Farm Bill

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

2013-Farm-bill-graphic1

Yesterday, Farm Bill conferees met for the first time to craft the final version of the Farm Bill that will go before the full Congress for a vote.  This has been a process that has taken more than two years, so it’s critical all bird hunters contact the conferees listed below urging final passage of a Farm Bill immediately.  Failure to pass a Farm Bill by year’s end would be devastating to wildlife and hunter access.

 

“If a Farm Bill doesn’t pass by year’s end critical programs like CRP and WRP will remain unavailable,” explained Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s vice president of government affairs.

 

Nomsen continued, “we saw the power of our collective voice as hunters earlier this month when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service re-opened Waterfowl Production Areas during the government shutdown.  Today, it’s even more critical for all of us to raise those voices.  The future of our hunting heritage hangs in the balance.  It may seem like I’m over-stating the severity of the situation, but I am not.  This is zero-hour for pheasants, quail, ducks, deer, turkeys, America’s water quality and hunter access.”

 

The following components are critical to Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s support of a new Farm Bill:

  • Conservation Compliance connected to crop insurance
  • National Sodsaver to protect our country’s last remaining native prairies
  • A Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with a minimum 25 million acre baseline
  • A 5-year Farm Bill

The list below is the full roster of Farm Bill conferees.  If you live within the districts of these individuals, it’s imperative they hear your voice as a hunter and conservationist urging for strong conservation policy in a new Farm Bill.  Follow this link to Contact your elected officials. Thank you for standing up for America’s sportsmen and women!

  Farm Bill Conferees

  Senate Republicans:
  Ranking Member Thad Cochran, R-Miss.
  Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
  Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.
  John Boozman, R-Ark.
  John Hoeven, R-N.D.
  Senate Democrats:
  Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
  Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
  Tom Harkin, D-Iowa
  Max Baucus, D-Mont.
  Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio
  Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
  Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
  House Republicans:
  Frank Lucas/Chair, R-Okla.
  Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas
  Mike Rogers, R-Ala.
  Mike Conaway, R-Texas
  Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.
  Austin Scott, R-Ga.
  Rick Crawford, R-Ark.
  Martha Roby, R-Ala.
  Kristi Noem, R-S.D.
  Jeff Denham, R-Calif.
  Rodney Davis, R-Ill.
  Steve Southerland, R-Fla.
  Ed Royce, R-Calif.
  Tom Marino, R-Pa.
  Dave Camp, R-Mich.
  Sam Johnson, R-Texas
  House Democrats:
  Collin Peterson/Ranking Member, D-Minn.
  Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio –Appointed by Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, to represent leadership in conference
  Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.
  Jim Costa, D-Calif.
  Timothy Walz, D-Minn.
  Kurt Shcrader, D-Ore.
  Jim McGovern, D-Mass.
  Suzan DelBene, D-Wash.
  Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Calif.
  Filemon Vela, D-Texas
  Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.
  Sander Levin, D-Mich.

Update: Farm Bill Fails in House

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Pheasant habitat and pheasant hunting depend on a conservation-friendly Farm Bill. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

Pheasant habitat and pheasant hunting depend on a conservation-friendly Farm Bill. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

Yesterday, the House of Representatives failed to pass Farm Bill legislation critical to the future of so many conservation programs, as well as new conservation policies.

While Pheasants Forever is currently assessing options available, it is clear that conservation interests are best served by maintaining a strong suite of programs like the Farm Service Agency’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Natural Resource’s Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and many others. Conservation policies like conservation compliance tied to crop insurance, as well as provisions helping protect native prairies, are critical components of whatever final package makes its way through Congress. We certainly urge all members of the House of Representatives to find the pathway that makes this possible.

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

Farm Bill Clears Senate as September 30th Deadline Looms

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Action Alert: Your Senator Needs to Hear from Pheasant Hunters This Morning

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Your voice as a pheasant hunter is needed this morning.

Your voice as a pheasant hunter is needed this morning.

Years of positioning and political posturing is finally coming to a head in Washington, D.C. today.  The future of every pheasant hunter and pheasant hunter’s grandchild is being debated on the floor of the U.S. Senate this morning.Earlier this month, Pheasants Forever joined fellow conservation organizations along with farm groups in a historical coalition supporting crop insurance’s connection to conservation compliance.  Today . . . THIS MORNING . . . it’s critical that your state’s two U.S. Senators hear the following from every Pheasants Forever member as the Farm Bill is debated on the Senate floor:

  1. You support the conservation compliance tied crop insurance deal Pheasants Forever agreed to without amendments to weaken it.
  2. You support Sodsaver policy to protect America’s last remaining native prairies, which are critical to you as an American bird hunter.
  3. You support a strong Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which is critical to water quality, wildlife habitat, healthy soil, rural economies, outdoor recreation and America’s hunting heritage.

No matter what’s on your day’s list of “To Do’s,” please put this at the top.  Our ability to chase roosters behind good bird dogs under autumn skies depends on your emails and phone calls today.  Your two U.S. Senators absolutely need to hear from you today.

Your Senator’s contact info is available at www.senate.gov or leave phone messages by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121.

Your voice will make a difference.  Current and future generations of sportsmen and sportswomen depend on you this morning.  Thanks for your help.

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

Farm Bill Markup Completed by both Senate and House Agriculture Committees this Week

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

After months of delays and political posturing, both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committees began work on a new Farm Bill this week.  As you’d expect, I was there along with PF’s Jim Inglis to make sure the voices of our members, bird hunters and conservationists were heard.  The Farm Bill remains our single most important tool for wildlife, water and hunters.

Hearing Room

The Hearing Room during the House Agriculture Committee’s Farm Bill Markup

In the Senate Committee

On Tuesday, May 14th, the Senate Agriculture Committee finished the Farm Bill markup in just three hours, which may be a record! Their efficiency stems from their pretty much sticking to last year’s template.  There are, however, a few amendments deserving attention due to their value for wildlife.

First, it was clearly demonstrated the Senate supports linking crop insurance to conservation compliance.  Second, we were very excited to see the important Sodsaver language make it into the bill.   Third, there were amendments to help USDA distribute technical assistance funding, which would give NRCS more flexibility to enter into agreements with Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever to deliver conservation programs.  And lastly, there was some interesting language on increasing habitat for pollinators, especially honey bees.  As we have mentioned before, great pollinator habitat can be great for all wildlife, particularly pheasants and quail.

Ultimately, the Senate Committee version of the Farm Bill passed by a vote of 15 to 5.  That bill is now headed to the full Senate floor for a vote.  In fact, there is a chance the Senate’s vote may happen as early as next week.

We need a strong Conservation Title in the Farm Bill that will protect wetlands like this one from being drained.

We need a strong Conservation Title in the Farm Bill that will protect wetlands like this one from being drained.

In the House Committee

On Wednesday, May 15th, the House Ag committee began work on their Farm Bill mark.  There was very little action on the Conservation Title during the session, and still no language to tie crop insurance to conservation compliance.  We were certainly disappointed by that omission, but remain optimistic it can be remedied in conference committee.  We are also hopeful to direct more EQIP/WHIP funding for wildlife priorities, however those amendments were withdrawn.   At near midnight (14 hours after the start), the House passed their version of the Bill by a vote of 36-10.

 

House leadership is postulating a floor vote may occur sometime in June where we hope to strengthen some of the conservation language in the Conservation Title.

2013crppf

Click on the graphic to visit www.CRPMeetings.org

Looking Ahead

A group of Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever chapter leaders, farmers, landowners and staff will be in Washington, D.C. next week meeting with our elected officials as we work to strengthen the conservation components of the bill in preparation for floor votes.

Additionally, we were excited to see the USDA open Continuous CRP practices to landowners this week and are optimistic there will be strong demand for the general CRP signup that starts on Monday, May 20th.  If you are a landowner interested in learning more about CRP, please check out one of our landowner meetings taking place in coordination with the signup.  A full list of landowner workshops is available at www.CRPMeetings.org and as always, your local USDA Service Center is an excellent source of CRP information.

 

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