On Tuesday, February 2, the Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing for Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack, who served as the Secretary of Agriculture for all eight years during the Obama Administration.
While the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is best known for issues related to farming, food production, and rural economic development, it is also critically important for America’s sportsmen and women. USDA is the manager of the National Forest System, which supports approximately 17 million hunting days and 34 million fishing days each year, making National Forests one of the most valuable places for sportsmen and women to recreate. Additionally, Vilsack will be tasked with helping administer the USDA components of the historic Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), which provides roughly $1.5 billion to the Forest Service to address maintenance backlog needs that impact access and opportunities for sportsmen and women and other outdoor enthusiasts. Last year, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) worked with USDA on a variety of issues relevant to America’s sportsmen and women. This included CSF’s role in leading a successful effort to secure GAOA funding for the U.S. Forest Service to advance opportunities for America’s sportsmen and women and will continue working with the new Administration on implementation.
In addition to GAOA, Vilsack will assume responsibility for the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill’s conservation title, actions to control the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, efforts to support forest management efforts and access opportunities on lands owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and more. CSF will remain engaged on these issues through our work to ensure that sportsmen and women have a voice at USDA.
CSF looks forward to nominee Vilsack’s swift confirmation, and will continue to work closely with Secretary Vilsack and his department as we continue to support sound conservation programs and efforts to increase access and opportunities for America’s sportsmen and women.
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?