The Farm Bill is the single-largest source of federal funding for conservation on private lands in our country. Initiatives like the Conservation Reserve Program, the Wetlands Reserve Program, and the Voluntary Public Access program encourage important habitat conservation and enhance sportsmen’s access to great private land hunting and fishing opportunities. Renewed approximately every five years, political wrangling has allowed the 2008 Farm Bill to expire, leaving important conservation programs in limbo. This uncertainty occurs as crop prices, land values, and federal policy have combined to encourage the largest conversion of grassland and wetland acres in generations. The new Farm Bill has been in play for more than two years, and sportsmen and the habitats they depend on for quality days afield, need the legislation to cross the finish line soon.
The Agriculture and Wildlife Working Group, a coalition of representatives from the TRCP and the nation’s leading conservation and sportsmen organizations, has been focused for more than two years on passing a new Farm Bill. The TRCP and our partners have prioritized three policy provisions for the 2013 Farm Bill, inclusion of a national Sodsaver policy that discourages the conversion of native prairie, the re-linking of conservation compliance with crop insurance, and a robust suite of effective and efficient conservation programs. Our strategy continues to meld direct advocacy, grassroots outreach, and media components to ensure that elected decision makers and impacted stakeholders like sportsmen realize just how important final passage of a Farm Bill is.
The AWWG continues to work with policymakers to ensure the 2013 Farm Bill maintains a proactive conservation title that delivers on-the-ground results. Given the tight budget, we’ll be working to inform policymakers of the importance of funding for Farm Bill conservation programs. Every dollar put toward these programs is an important addition to fish and wildlife habitat around the country. The TRCP also will continue championing the VPA-HIP program and seeking to maintain funding for states to increase their access programs.
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The Farm Bill greatly benefits fish, wildlife and related recreation on America’s private farms, ranches and forests. The TRCP is working hard to maintain the law’s conservation emphasis while reducing agricultural pollution to our streams, wetlands and estuaries.
Senior Director of Science and Policy