Farm Bill Clears Senate, Edges Closer to Passage
Senate bill reflects collaboration between sportsmen, commodity groups;
sportsmen renew calls for House to expeditiously advance conservation-focused bill
WASHINGTON – The Senate took a critical step toward implementing policy that will impact great swaths of American agricultural lands as well as millions of sportsmen and landowners by voting today to advance the 2013 Farm Bill, which would codify much of U.S. agriculture policy for the next five years. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and other leaders in the agriculture-conservation community lauded the Senate for addressing sportsmen’s priorities in its version of the bill and urged the House of Representatives to follow suit.
“The Senate has produced a bill that makes constructive changes to conservation programs, and it ensures that the shift to crop insurance premium support as the primary component of the farm safety net carries with it protection for wetlands, highly erodible lands and native prairie,” said Steve Kline, TRCP director of government relations. “We are pleased that Agriculture Committee Chair Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran brought such a sensible bill to the floor, and we thank them for their leadership throughout this process.”
Components of the Senate bill singled out for praise by the TRCP include a conservation compliance provision re-linking crop insurance premium support to certain conservation practices and a national “Sodsaver” program to safeguard native prairies. The conservation compliance provision resulted from an unprecedented agreement between commodity groups and the conservation community, including numerous TRCP partner groups.
“Linking conservation compliance to crop insurance premium support in this Farm Bill was a top priority for the sportsmen’s community,” said Dan Wrinn, director of public policy for Ducks Unlimited. “The unprecedented agreement that we reached with agriculture and crop insurance groups will wisely invest taxpayer funds in environmentally responsible farming practices, promoting farming of our nation’s most traditionally productive acres.”
“The national Sodsaver provision in the Senate bill will conserve native prairies, one of the most imperiled ecosystems in North America,” said Bridget Collins, agriculture policy coordinator with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “The combined pressure of high commodity prices and land values has resulted in these grasslands being converted at an unacceptably high rate. In addition to the conservation values, the national Sodsaver provision provides important protections for both ranchers and taxpayers.”
With the Senate bill out the door, all eyes now turn to the House, which faces a rapidly closing window of time to advance its own Farm Bill.
“The 2008 Farm Bill expires Sept. 30,” stated Dave Nomsen, vice president of government affairs for Pheasants Forever. “Another extension would irreversibly change the face of private lands conservation, threatening the existence of conservation programs that landowners have relied on for decades. Sportsmen and landowners are joining to urge the House to commit to advancing a forward-thinking Farm Bill as soon as possible.”
Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations
and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions
of hunting and fishing.