Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members and several staff joined representatives from the sportsmen’s community on June 28 at a Breakfast Briefing on Capitol Hill to discuss priorities of the nation’s leading hunting conservation organizations for the 2018 Farm Bill reauthorization.
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) Senior Director of Midwestern States Chris Horton moderated the program. “Many of the land conservation programs within the Farm Bill are important to sportsmen and women – true conservationists who support the improvement of soil, water, and fish and wildlife resources on private lands, farms, ranches, and in forests,” said Horton. “Carrying over the conservation successes of previous Farm Bills is critical to future conservation projects.”
Current programs up for reauthorization that conserve fish and wildlife within the 2014 Farm Bill include: the Conservation Reserve Program, which allows farmers to take environmentally sensitive land out of production in exchange for rental payments; the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, which encourages landowners to open their lands for public access; and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, which conserves wetlands and other important habitats through easements.
“As a life-long sportsman and CSC House Vice-Chairman, I am committed to protecting sportsmen’s access to our waters and lands, and as the House Agriculture Committee continues to craft our next Farm Bill I look forward to continue working on policies that advance a sportsman’s right to responsibly hunt and fish our nation’s rich national resources,” said Congressman Austin Scott (GA).
“We are ready [to reauthorize] the Farm Bill, and are working on a bipartisan basis in the [House] Agriculture Committee to ensure it is good for wildlife and conservation,” said Congressman Collin Peterson (MN), Ranking Member on the House Agriculture Committee as well as a CSC Member.
“The Farm Bill is important, we all know that. My personal vision for the Farm Bill, if we do it right, is to have a robust rural economy. It should be important to every American,” said CSC Member Congressman Glenn Thompson (PA).” As Vice-Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, I work closely with the Sportsmen’s Caucus, as well as external organizations on conservation issues, including current programs within the Farm Bill and new programs as well.”
In addition, Congressman Roger Marshall (KS) presented on the importance of these programs, followed by representatives from Briefing sponsors, including: the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; California Waterfowl Association; Delta Waterfowl Foundation; Ducks Unlimited; Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, Inc; and National Shooting Sports Foundation.
A hearing to discuss the 2018 Farm Bill direction is scheduled in the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee on June 29.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?