Why It Matters: From headwater streams to the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners play a big role in the health of our fisheries and water quality. Through the Farm Bill’s Title II conservation programs, these private landowners have the tools and funding they need to manage their land for both productivity and conservation of fish habitat. CSF is working to ensure that the angling community provides a united front in support of their efforts and the nation’s continued investment in the conservation of aquatic resources.
- The Farm Bill’s conservation programs represent the largest annual investment in private land conservation in the world.
- Many of the Title II provisions in the Farm bill include a focus on enhancing water quality, fish habitat, and aquatic resource conservation.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is working with members of the angling community to organize support around a strong conservation title in the 2023 Farm Bill that ensures the significant investments in fisheries and aquatic habitats continue to provide opportunities for our nation’s private landowners and sportsmen and women.
Authorized roughly every 5 years, Title II (more commonly known as the “Conservation Title”) of the Farm Bill amounts to about $6 billion in annual funding through various programs that benefit soil health, water quality, and fish and wildlife habitat. With around 70% of the contiguous land area in the United States in private ownership, working with landowners to implement conservation measures on working lands is vital to achieving meaningful impacts for the nation’s fish populations and aquatic resources from the Intermountain West to the Chesapeake Bay and south to the Gulf of Mexico while diversifying operations and providing a safety net for participating landowners.
While often thought of by sportsmen as primarily benefiting upland wildlife and waterfowl species, many of the Title II programs provide tremendous benefits for fish and aquatic resources. Historically, however, the connection between the Farm Bill and better fishing has not been well recognized by anglers or the angling industry. As a result, anglers have not readily engaged in advocating for maintaining or improving the Farm Bill conservation programs for aquatic resources during previous reauthorizations, nor with the implementation of the enacted provisions once the bill is reauthorized.
The current Farm Bill is set to expire in 2023. To ensure that fish and aquatic habitat conservation remain an integral part of the Farm Bill conservation programs, and to explore opportunities to enhance fisheries conservation in the next Farm Bill reauthorization and its subsequent implementation, CSF is working with members of the recreational fishing community to organize a coalition of key stakeholders to join other historically-engaged sportsmen-conservation organizations in support a strong conservation title that benefits fish and aquatic habitat, while also exploring ways to elevate fish and fish habitat as priorities within existing and future programs.
As a key component of a discussion on CSF’s overall Farm Bill priorities, strengthening the angling community’s seat at the table will be featured at the upcoming Beyond the Farm virtual briefing on December 6.