Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever urge both the House and the
Senate to pass the legislation and for President George W. Bush
to sign the bill into law as quickly as possible.
bill is the single biggest opportunity for conservation. Any
further delay to a new bill would have jeopardized three
decades' worth of progress toward cleaning our water, protecting
our soils and creating habitat for wildlife," said Dave Nomsen,
vice president of government affairs for Pheasants Forever and
Quail Forever, who has played a critical role in shaping the
farm bill's conservation title.
"Dave Nomsen has been fighting this farm bill battle for
wildlife conservation, our members and all hunters across
America nonstop for over a year," reported Howard Vincent,
president and chief executive officer of the organizations.
"Dave's voice has carried the PF and QF conservation values to
the halls of Congress, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and
the White House. Surrounded by challenging circumstances, we
have a conservation title in this farm bill that can help
America's wildlife move forward again."
The bill does come at a time of intense pressure on today's
agriculture industry: record high commodity prices and record
low commodity supplies; skyrocketing land values; the nation's
dependence on foreign oil and the demand for ethanol-based
biofuels -- just to name a few. Despite this "perfect storm" of
challenges, there are tremendous conservation opportunities
within the new proposed farm bill.
"The alternatives to a new bill were extremely grim," said
Nomsen. "While we are concerned with the overall reduction in
CRP, this new farm bill represents a strong array of
conservation programs, and the importance of $4 billion in new
conservation funding necessary to augment some very important
programs cannot be understated."
While final language is not yet confirmed, major conservation
provisions likely in the bill are:
Reserve Program -- The bill will reauthorize the
Conservation Reserve Program, the most successful
conservation program in U.S. history and crucial for the
continued success of pheasant, quail and other wildlife
populations. While disappointed that the program's overall
authority is reduced to 32 million acres, Pheasant Forever
and Quail Forever strongly support new language and
safeguards that will strengthen and improve CRP as an
economically competitive and viable program.
"Given the current agricultural climate, our goal was to
shore up and strengthen CRP as a voluntary, incentive-based
program by improving the rental rates and building the
program's demand back up again. Demand will dictate a strong
CRP," Nomsen said. "Establishing a more dynamic and
economically competitive CRP is critical going forward."
Other important components of the CRP program as outlined in
the bill include:
to adjust rental rates will ensure CRP's competitiveness.
"We thank Chairman Collin Peterson for his continued
commitment to CRP and for recognizing the need to improve
rates in an effort to maintain the program's effectiveness,"
includes provisions that would provide incentives for
thinning and burning of CRP tree plantings. "This is huge
news for quail," Nomsen said. "Ranking member Saxby
Chambliss must be commended for spearheading these
provisions that will help a game bird in desperate need. In
all honesty, this may be the biggest news for quail and
quail hunters in a generation, and certainly the biggest
news Quail Forever can deliver to our members during our
activity in South Dakota shows that landowner support for
CRP remains strong. Despite the expiration of over 300,000
CRP acres last fall, over 20,000 acres were offered for
enrollment in just two weeks' time in South Dakota's new
State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement program, known as SAFE.
This represents an important change to the Conservation
Reserve Program, encouraging state-specific wildlife-focused
projects. Minnesota's SAFE program is also up and running at
this time, with additional states to follow soon. The
success of these programs demonstrates the demand for
conservation, given competitive rental rates.
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Program -- The bill provides $1.3 billion to re-establish the
Wetlands Reserve Program, as well as a new appraisal process to
make the program more competitive.
Stewardship Program -- The Conservation Stewardship Program,
formerly the Conservation Security Program, will be expanded
with $1.1 billion to enroll 80 million acres in the program
nationwide. The additional funding would encourage better
wildlife management of CSP lands. "Chairman Harkin has fought
hard to solidify the future of this program, and we thank him
for that," said Nomsen. "There is certainly potential for CSP to
be a new wildlife jewel. We're hoping this level of commitment
will make that hope a reality with enhanced language generated
from this bill."
Open fields -- The
bill includes $50 million for new provisions to help states
develop and enhance access programs for hunters. Often called
"walk-in" programs, they provide for improved public access to
private lands, but also require that those lands be managed to
optimize their value to fish and wildlife.
The bill is also expected to include provisions for the
Grasslands Reserve Program, the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program
and to address the conversion of native prairies -- one of the
nation's most threatened ecosystems. Details regarding these
programs will be available on the Web soon at
"Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever applaud Senate Agriculture
Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and ranking member Saxby
Chambliss, R-Ga., and House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson,
D-Minn., and ranking member Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., for their
commitment to this crucial legislation," Nomsen said. "Their
leadership in the language of this bill will deliver a conservation
legacy to the next generation.
"As with all farm bills, passage represents the first step, and
then our challenge will be to deliver and implement these programs
across the countryside -- especially challenging considering the
aforementioned pressures -- but we need this bill's passage in order
to get these programs in the ground."
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are nonprofit conservation
organizations dedicated to the protection and enhancement of
pheasant, quail and other wildlife populations in North America
through habitat improvement, land management, public awareness and
education. Together, the organizations have more than 127,000
members in 700 local chapters across the continent.
[Text from file received from