Posts Tagged ‘Wetlands Reserve Program’

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.

Farm Bill Extension Expires, PF Presses Congress to Act

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Until national native prairie, or "Sodsaver," provisions are enacted, native grasslands will continue to be susceptible to conversion.

Until national native prairie, or “Sodsaver,” provisions are enacted, native grasslands will continue to be susceptible to conversion. Photo by Matt Morlock / Pheasants Forever

Editor’s Note: Pheasants Forever along with Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation sent the following letter to President Barack Obama and Congressional leadership.

The Farm Bill extension has expired and, along with it, vital conservation programs will unfortunately be closed for enrollment. As the leaders of Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, we respectfully urge you to pass a comprehensive five-year Farm Bill as soon as possible. Consumers may not feel the full consequences of a lapsed farm bill before January, but conservation felt it immediately.

Farm Bill conservation programs like the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program and Grasslands Reserve Program are now closed for enrollment. These are the most effective tools farmers and ranchers have to conserve bird and other wildlife habitat on private lands, and they will no longer be available without an enacted Farm Bill. This habitat also contributes environmental services to our citizens in the form of flood abatement, soil erosion abatement and clean water.

From 2006 to 2011, 1.3 million acres of native grassland were converted to cropland in the Great Plains, most of which occurred in heart of the duck factory. This is a rate of land conversion our country hasn’t seen since the Dust Bowl. It is not only vital for the birds our organizations work to protect that these lands are conserved and restored, it is vital to our country’s citizens. We could be recreating the dust storms of the 1930s without the conservation programs in the Farm Bill that encourage private landowners to maintain the grasses and prairie habitat that prevent erosion.

Outdoor recreation, including hunting and bird watching, contributes $646 billion to the U.S. economy each year. The industry also creates 6.1 million American jobs – more than the oil and gas, finance or real estate sectors. These jobs cannot be exported and fuel rural, local and our national economies. Conservation measures in the Senate Farm Bill, like re-coupling conservation compliance to crop insurance and a national Sodsaver program, are critical to ensuring this positive economic impact continues.

On behalf of our more than 1.5 million members and supporters, we ask that you use your leadership to expeditiously pass and enact a comprehensive five-year Farm Bill with a robust conservation title that includes re-coupling compliance to crop insurance and a national Sodsaver program.

Thank you for your consideration of our perspectives.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

U.S. House of Representatives Fail to Deliver 2012 Farm Bill

Friday, September 21st, 2012

I’ve just returned home from Washington, D.C. where the Farm Bill remains a game of political football.  Continuing with the analogy, this week the U.S. House Representatives took a knee at halftime, took the ball with them into the locker room and has decided they aren’t going to act on Farm Bill legislation till after the election.  A sad statement of affairs, considering the House Agriculture Committee passed a Farm Bill earlier this summer that is simply awaiting floor time in front of the full House.

This will be the fate of many of the CRP acres expiring this autumn, a loss of wildlife habitat only exacerbated by the House’s inaction on a new Farm Bill. Photo by Matt Morlock / Pheasants Forever

The political shenanigans aside, this spells trouble for wildlife, water, and hunters.  Of particular concern are hunters’ most cherished conservation programs; including, the Conservation Reserve and Wetlands Reserve programs.  As of now, all conservation program enrollments have been shut down beginning on October 1st.  Even Continuous CRP practices, in conflict with their very definition, will halt this coming Oct. 1st.

This is particularly bad news for the millions of hunters headed afield in the next few weeks, especially in areas of the northern plains and the drought stricken regions of the country.  Wildlife need habitat acres more than ever under these strangling weather conditions and the House’s inaction spells massive problems in light of the 6.5 million acres of CRP also expiring at month’s end.

The lone bright spot in D.C. is Senator Jon Tester’s introduction of The Sportmen’s Act (S. 3525), a bill that contains a number of great programs for sportsmen and sportswomen; including, the reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and reauthorization of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.  I had a chance to discuss this Act with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.  Senator Klobuchar pledged to co-sponsor the legislation and do everything possible to move the bill forward.  Please help by asking your Senators to step up as well.

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

Pheasants Forever Journal, Summer 2011 Issue Preview

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

The Pheasant Forever Journal, Summer 2011 issue cover.

While spring is seemingly having a hard time “springing” in most parts of pheasant country, summer can’t be far off. In fact, the Summer 2011 issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal of Upland Conservation mails today.

The first thing readers will notice is the original cover artwork. The Brittany pup was created by Atlanta, Georgia, artist Peggy Watkins, and represents the first time since the Winter 2008 issue that art has appeared on the cover. Prior to that, artwork last appeared on the cover for the Fall 2002 issue.

Now back to the Brittany. Making its first appearance on the Pheasants Forever Journal cover in 5 years, the Brit is representing all sporting dog breeds, as this issue contains a Sporting Dog Special Section. Check it out for training tips (especially timely if you’re the lucky owner of a new pup) and new bird dog gear.

In addition to a pheasant hunting photo essay, upland hunters will also enjoy Pheasants Forever Journal Editor Mark Herwig’s entry “Woodcock Conservation” about hunting and getting to know the American Woodcock (a thicker preview can be found at Mark’s blog). There are some surprising similarities between woodcock and pheasants, which is why it makes the grade for the pheasant publication.

Finally, conservation policy wonks can dig in to “Celebrating CRP’s 25th Anniversary” and “Will WRP Survive Congressional Cuts?” These programs – the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) – do as much for pheasants and pheasant hunters as any, so if you aren’t already, this is a prime opportunity to become familiar.

The next issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal will be the highly anticipated Pheasant Hunting Preview edition slated for later this summer. Don’t miss an issue, so if it’s time to join or renew your Pheasants Forever membership, call toll free at (877) 773-2070 or do so right here at the Pheasants Forever website.

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor