Farm Bill gets wave of support from outdoor community
Sportsmen and conservation groups across the board have expressed strong, albeit at times guarded, support for the 2014 Farm Bill.
The long-awaited five-year legislation, passed 68-32 by the Senate on Feb. 4, has been described as “a huge victory for wildlife” that includes bipartisan “proactive and common sense conservation programs” to conserve wildlife, wildlife habitat and also help keep farmers and ranchers on the land.
The only disappointment voiced has been that the legislation includes a significant cut in conservation program funding along with provisions that weaken wetland protections.
Also, the final bill included a regional, rather than a national, Sodsaver provision to protect native grasslands.
All said, however, there has been widespread support, as seen in the summary of quotes below from several national groups.
Becky Humphries, executive vice president, National Wild Turkey Federation: “We are extremely pleased with the Conservation Title in this Farm Bill. We applaud the work of (Senate Agriculture Committee) chairwoman (Debbie) Stabenow (D-Mich.) and (House Agriculture Committee) chairman (Frank) Lucas (R-Okla.) to write and pass a farm bill that is simpler, more streamlined, but provides key provisions for good conservation.”
Steve Kline, Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership: “The new Farm Bill addresses key sportsmen’s priorities, including re-linking conservation compliance with the federal crop insurance program, implementing a ‘Sodsaver’ provision aimed at conserving intact prairie grasslands, continuing the Conservation Reserve Program and expanding incentives for sportsmen’s access on private lands.”
“The significance of this victory for sportsmen, fish and wildlife, and the nation’s outdoors-focused economy cannot be overstated.”
Dale Hall, CEO, Ducks Unlimited: “This bill includes proactive and common sense conservation programs that will help deter wetland and other habitat loss, incentivize habitat conservation and keep working farmers and ranchers on their land. This farm bill is the best for conservation that we’ve seen in many years.”
Larry Schweiger, president and CEO, National Wildlife Federation:
“With so many competing interests, it is a huge victory for wildlife that the conservation of our nation’s natural resources was prioritized and included in the final bill. By re-linking conservation compliance to crop insurance, funding key conservation programs, and including a Sodsaver provision in key states to protect grasslands, this bill will help wildlife from across our prairies to our oceans.
“We are especially pleased that this bill includes a provision requiring those receiving crop insurance subsidies to control soil erosion and refrain from draining wetlands.”
Other provisions in the 2014 Farm bill include dedicated funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program; creating mandatory funding for voluntary hunter access program, such as the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentives Program, which will receive $40 million of guaranteed funding; and enhancing forestry provisions that strengthen forest management across the United States.