January 28, 2014

Statement from the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Regarding the Farm Bill Conference Agreement

We applaud the Farm Bill Conference Committee, Agriculture Committee Chairs Stabenow and Lucas, and Ranking Members Cochran and Peterson, for completing work on The Agricultural Act of 2014.  America’s farmers, ranchers, and natural resources need this strong Farm Bill completed as quickly as possible. 


Conferees signed off on the conference report Monday evening.  Most importantly for our nation’s fish and wildlife resources, the bill contained key provisions to protect wetlands and native grasslands, and continued effective, voluntary conservation programs. 


“The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies is very pleased that the final agreement met our top priorities of re-linking conservation compliance to crop insurance, a workable Sodsaver policy, and no weakening of Swampbuster provisions,” said Association President Dan Forster.  “Though we had advocated for a nation-wide Sodsaver and more robust funding,” continued Forster, “we appreciate the careful thought and compromise that went into the conservation title policies, and strongly support the overall bill.”  The regional Sodsaver policy in the bill applies to Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and will reduce the threat of grassland habitat conversion in these important prairie states.  


The farm bill conservation title is the single, largest federal investment for natural resources conservation - including fish and wildlife conservation - on private lands in the nation. The Agricultural Act of 2014 continues funding and enhances policies for voluntary, private lands conservation, including conservation easements and the Conservation Reserve Program.  Farm bill conservation programs are critical to state fish and wildlife agencies for conserving and improving millions of acres of habitat and for providing opportunities for hunting and angling. This investment, in turn, helps sustain rural economies; improve the quality of life through cleaner water, fresher air and healthier places to live; and provide affordable food and fiber in environmentally sustainable ways.


The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the state fish and wildlife agencies we represent are committed to final passage of The Agricultural Act of 2014.  “We urge the House and Senate to pass this conference report quickly, so that critical conservation efforts can resume without delay,” said Forster.  The Association urges state fish and wildlife agencies to reach out to their Congressional delegations, encouraging Members to support this critical bill.

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