June 5, 2013 (Washington, DC) – As both the House and Senate move to reauthorize the 2013 Farm Bill, the conservation title is of paramount importance to America’s landowners, hunters and anglers. With this vital legislation hanging in the balance, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) was joined by Members of Congress and sportsmen’s conservation groups for a breakfast briefing on Capitol Hill this morning, focusing on priorities for the 2013 Farm Bill.
With over 80 attendees, including 15 bipartisan Members of Congress, the discussion focused on next steps for the Farm Bill in the 113th Congress and the important suite of programs associated with the legislation that support soil, water, and wildlife conservation on America’s farms and ranches.
CSF President Jeff Crane opened the briefing by introducing members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) in attendance, including House CSC Co-Chairs, Representatives Bob Latta and Bennie Thompson and CSC Vice-Chair, Representative Tim Walz.
“I want to thank the members of the CSC for their hard work on the Farm Bill, making sure that the conservation title remains robust. Private lands and conservation incentives are the most important things for habitat conservation. I ask everyone in this room to continue to work with members of the Agriculture Committee to ensure we pass a Farm Bill we can all be proud of,” Crane stated.
The briefing included a frank dialogue with the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee. Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, both members of the CSC, shared the microphone as they discussed their priorities for the Farm Bill, the importance of maintaining a strong baseline for the conservation title, and the challenges of getting a bill through the House.
“Members of the CSC understand more than anybody, how important the conservation portion of the Farm Bill is to hunting and fishing, wildlife and the environment. We need your votes to sustain the conservation portion of the Farm Bill and we also need your help in educating fellow members as to the importance of passing the final product across the floor, so that Ranking Member Peterson and I can get to conference with the U.S. Senate,” Chairman Lucas stated.
Ranking Member Peterson continued, “We have put together a good conservation title, but we need the votes at the end of the day to pass the Farm Bill. We need people to step up and put their partisan ideologies aside to pass this bill.”
Members of the sportsmen’s conservation community spoke on the subject of the Farm Bill from their perspective. Gary Taylor of Ducks Unlimited, Jim Inglis of Pheasants Forever, Scott Kovaravics of the Izaak Walton League of America and Robert Bendick of The Nature Conservancy highlighted specific conservation priorities for the Farm Bill and the importance of a collective effort from the sportsmen’s conservation community to pass a comprehensive 2013 Farm Bill.
The sportsmen’s conservation community priorities include holding the line on no more than $6 billion cuts to the conservation title and reauthorize and provide strong baseline funding for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Wetland and Agriculture Easements Programs, the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Practice (WHIP) of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Voluntary Public Access Program (VPA.) These voluntary sign-up programs are very popular among producers and provide financial and technical support for habitat restoration on their properties.
The sponsors of the breakfast briefing included the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, Ducks Unlimited, the Izaak Walton League of America, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Program. The briefing door prize sponsors included: Browning/FNH USA, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Sun Optics and Yamaha Motor Corporation.
Since 1989 the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has maintained a singleness of purpose that has guided the organization to become the most respected and trusted sportsmen’s organization in the political arena. CSF’s mission is to work with Congress, governors, and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, recreational fishing and shooting and trapping. The unique and collective force of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) and the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC), working closely with CSF, and with the support of major hunting, recreational fishing and shooting, and trapping organizations, serves as an unprecedented network of pro-sportsmen elected officials that advance the agenda of America’s hunters and anglers.
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?