Posts Tagged ‘Senate Agriculture Committee’
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
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.
The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Government Affairs
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.