Posts Tagged ‘Secretary Vilsack’

Conservation’s Black Monday

Monday, October 1st, 2012

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.

Speaker Shane Mahoney, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Pheasants Forever’s Dave Nomsen at this weekend’s Rally for Iowa’s Outdoor Legacy

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.

Photos like this will be common as a result of the U.S. House of Representatives failures in 2012

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.

Mark you calendar to VOTE on Tuesday, November 6th

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

USDA Secretary Vilsack Targets Improvements to CRP

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

The USDA's new Highly Erodible Lands CRP Initiative will help prevent dust storms like this one in Kansas

Last Saturday evening before a sold-out crowd at the National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic banquet in Kansas City, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced in a video message that the USDA will soon be rolling out important news about the Conservation Reserve Program.  In addition to the upcoming general CRP signup announced earlier this month, the USDA intends to specifically target very environmentally sensitive and highly erodible lands in an effort to encourage their enrollment as part of the ongoing continuous CRP.

 

This should be welcome news to bird hunters everywhere as we’ve watched massive declines in CRP acreage, especially throughout the northern Great Plains states.  Hopefully, this is the first in several actions desperately needed to shore up a struggling Conservation Reserve Program; the result of record land and commodity prices.

 

In addition to this latest USDA announcement, Pheasants Forever is calling on the USDA for the following actions:

 

  • Updated and more competitive CRP soil rentals rates.

 

  • Reallocations of wildlife-focused CRP practices like CP-33’s for quail, CP-37’s for waterfowl, and CP-38’s for pheasants and other critters.  In other words, reallocations move un-enrolled acres to states that have maxed out their current allotment.

 

  • New pollinator provisions concurrently strengthen CRP’s wildlife and farm economy benefits.  Pheasants and quail share a common need for habitat featuring a diverse forb (flowering plant) component with pollinating insects like honey bees, butterflies, beetles, and bats.  Following a pheasant or quail nest’s hatch, young chicks survive almost exclusively on a diet of insects.  These insects critical to a gamebird’s life cycle are also dependent upon a diverse mix of forbs.  Likewise, these flowering plants create fantastic brood cover allowing chicks to move through habitat at ground level, while having protection from avian predators in the sky.

 

 

Mother Nature has been helping upland wildlife with a mild winter thus far, but unless we shore up the critical habitat the CRP provides, it will continue to disappear from the landscape and our favorite birds’ futures will continue to look grim indeed.

 

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