Posts Tagged ‘NAWCA’
Thursday, December 6th, 2012
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Yesterday in Washington, D.C., I attended a United States Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on conservation programs and the 2012 Farm Bill. During the proceedings, a bipartisan group of Senators and a collection of farmers from across the country voiced support for a number of federal conservation programs. Given the current political climate, I took the vocal support for our favorite programs, like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), as a positive signal entering this year’s critical Farm Bill debate. Watch video of the hearing.
Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) kicked off the hearing articulating her support for public access and the Michigan pheasant initiative, specifically noting her attendance at Pheasants Forever’s State Chapter Meeting in Michigan earlier this month.
She also added, “Conservation helps farmers and ranchers to produce food, feed, fuel and fiber while taking care of the land and water. The Farm Bill is a jobs bill, and that’s as true of the conservation title as it is for anything else in the Farm Bill.”
Following Chairwoman Stabenow, Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-KS) voiced his support for a strong Conservation Reserve Program in the Farm Bill.
U.S. Department of Agriculture officials testifying included NRCS Chief Dave White and FSA Administrator Bruce Nelson. When queried about what the Senate Ag Committee should do about a new Farm Bill, Chief White characterized last year’s Super Committee agreement by Agriculture leaders as having “knocked it out of the park” for conservation and recommended following that path.
Administrator Nelson was asked about the future of CRP. In his response, he spoke about more diversification and targeting of CRP acres, increased use of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and expanded partnerships like those with Pheasants Forever to provide local wildlife conservation expertise in the form of PF’s Farm Bill Biologists.
Senator John Thune (R-SD), from the pheasant capital of South Dakota, voiced a need for 1.5 million acres of CRP in his home state to continue South Dakota’s $250 million dollar pheasant hunting industry. He noted the success of targeted practices like CRP SAFE (State Acres For wildlife Enhancement) and Conservation Practice 37, which focuses on duck nesting habitat.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) also voiced her support for an entire suite of conservation programs and noted their importance to Minnesota’s hunters and anglers. Senator Klobuchar also spoke about the importance of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) funding in combination with Farm Bill programs.
All things considered, it was reassuring to hear such a large bipartisan group of Senators talk about the importance of conservation programs. However, talk doesn’t put habitat in the ground, clean water in our streams or roosters in the air, your senators and representatives need to hear from you now about the future of conservation programs. Please contact your elected official and let them know that you want to see this verbal support for conservation turn into actions and a new Farm Bill with a strong conservation title protecting our nation’s wildlife and natural resources for future generations.
The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Government Relations.