Why It Matters: Generally reauthorized every five years, the United States Farm Bill represents one of the largest and most important pieces of legislation passed by Congress. Covering topics ranging from crop insurance to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as Food Stamps), the Farm Bill’s provisions touch nearly all Americans in one way or another. For sportsmen and women, our nation’s original conservationists, the Farm Bill’s Conservation and Forestry Titles represent some of the greatest investments in fish, wildlife, and forest conservation in the world. In support of robust Conservation and Forestry Titles, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is proud to unveil our priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill.
- With the 2018 Farm Bill set to expire at the end of September, Congress is already hard at work preparing priorities as it seeks to reauthorize the Farm Bill in 2023.
- In support of robust investments in the Conservation and Forestry Titles, CSF is unveiling our priorities for fish and wildlife conservation for the 2023 Farm Bill.
- In support of these priorities, CSF is working closely with members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, mission partners, and other stakeholders to advance these priorities.
As the debate surrounding the 2023 Farm Bill continues, CSF is proud to release our priorities for the Farm Bill’s Conservation and Forestry Titles. These priorities are designed to elevate the sporting-conservation community’s voice in support of Farm Bill programs that support critical habitat management efforts for fish and wildlife and provide access for sportsmen and women throughout the country.
CSF’s priorities cover a wide range of programs and practices, each serving to improve habitat for fish and wildlife, and, in turn, opportunities for sportsmen and women. These include maximizing enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the original Farm Bill conservation program. Currently enrolling acres through the latest general CRP signup period, CSF supports improvements designed to maximize enrollment in the program in a manner that compliments agricultural production across the country.
Similarly, and arguably most important to sportsmen and women, CSF and many partners within the sporting-conservation community are requesting that Congress triple investments in the Voluntary Public Access – Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP). VPA-HIP allows state fish and wildlife agencies to leverage federal investments against state funds to create voluntary public access to private lands programs. Across the country, VPA-HIP supported programs are connecting hunters, anglers, and wildlife viewers with landowners who graciously open their property for public access in exchange for humble payments and habitat management assistance.
Within the Forestry Title, CSF’s priorities focus on the reauthorization of programs like Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) and Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CLFRP) to ensure that the U.S. Forest Service retains the opportunity to work with engaged partners and allow our nation’s public and private forest resources continue to receive necessary management actions. Finally, CSF is taking the lead in supporting increased recognition for the role of the Farm Bill’s conservation programs in supporting the conservation of critical fisheries throughout the country. While much of the conversations surrounding the Farm Bill’s conservation programs center on direct, on-site impacts, CSF has led the development of a Fish in the Farm Bill Coalition to highlight that many of these programs carry important beyond-the-farm benefits that many tend to overlook.
While this preview provides just a snapshot of CSF’s priorities, it demonstrates both the depth and breadth of our leadership to benefit not only the conservation concepts most important to us as sportsmen and women, but also to support the farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who implement these programs. Through their participation, these landowners are advancing their conservation legacy while supporting the overall sustainability and profitability of their agricultural or forestry system in a true win-win for everyone.