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Senate Bill Keeps Private Lands Conservation Intact


Tim Smith

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From the AFS webfeed:


    Senate Agriculture Committee's Farm Bill upholds key conservation programs,
    includes provisions important to private lands conservation and hunting and
    angling



    WASHINGTON - As the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee finalizes its version
    of the 2012 Farm Bill, which sustains millions of acres of valuable private
    lands fish and wildlife habitat, prominent sportsmen's groups urged swift
    action by the full Congress to expedite passage of this key legislation, the
    Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership announced today.



    Members of the TRCP
    <http://www.trcp.org/issues/agriculture/the-agriculture-and-wildlife-working
    -group> Agriculture and Wildlife Working Group, which advocates on behalf of
    sensible and successful farm conservation programs, offered praise to Senate
    decision makers for their efforts to maintain hunting and angling
    opportunities relied upon by sportsmen across the nation.



    "These are trying times for private lands conservation funding, but thanks
    to the leadership of Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Pat
    Roberts, the Senate Farm Bill makes the most of limited dollars," said Steve
    Kline, director of the TRCP Center for Agricultural and Private Lands. "By
    strengthening programs through sound policy, the Senate Farm Bill makes the
    conservation title more efficient and more user friendly, a victory for
    responsible resources management. American sportsmen commend the Senate
    Agriculture Committee for producing the best possible Farm Bill under
    circumstances that are challenging at best."



    Jennifer Mock Schaeffer, Farm Bill coordinator for the
    <http://www.fishwildlife.org/> Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and
    AWWG chair, affirmed that overall the Senate Committee maintains the
    functions of the Farm Bill's conservation title, although many of the
    program names have changed and funds have been reallocated accordingly.



    "The Senate Agriculture Committee worked admirably at making the most of a
    very unfortunate national budget situation," said Mock Schaeffer. "We
    sincerely appreciate Chairwoman Stabenow's and Senator Roberts' commitment
    to continue funding for conservation programs at reasonable levels - and
    their acknowledgement that conservation is a significant component of
    working agriculture.



    "As budgets grow even tighter in the months to come, Congress must work
    together to pass a Farm Bill before the end of 2012," continued Mock
    Schaeffer. "As the Senate Agriculture Committee concludes its process by
    reporting a bill to the floor, we look forward to working with both the full
    Senate and the House to prioritize passage of the Farm Bill."



    Especially important in the Senate's effort was the inclusion of a strong
    Sodsaver provision. Initially proposed as an amendment by Sen. John Thune of
    South Dakota, the provision was adopted in the underlying bill by committee
    leadership prior to the markup.



    Sodsaver promotes land management practices that facilitate the conservation
    of native grasslands. The program is important to fish and wildlife and
    valued by sportsmen. The committee's action on this critical issue drew loud
    praise from the TRCP and its partners.



    "America's grasslands provide essential habitat for fish and wildlife and
    afford opportunities for outdoor recreation of all kinds," said Dan Wrinn,
    director of public policy for <http://www.ducks.org> Ducks Unlimited, an
    AWWG member. "But grasslands are also one of our more threatened ecosystems.
    Sodsaver presents Congress with a rare opportunity to save taxpayer money,
    protect an iconic American landscape and preserve the ability of farmers and
    ranchers to manage their lands as they see fit. We are thrilled that
    committee leadership recognized the importance of Senator Thune's amendment
    and included it in the chairwoman's mark."



    "With Senate deliberations on the Farm Bill continuing and the House
    beginning hearings on the bill, now is the time for our elected leaders to
    work together toward swift passage of this critical piece of legislation,"
    said Dave Nomsen, vice president of government affairs for
    <http://www.pheasantsforever.org/> Pheasants Forever and
    <http://www.quailforever.org/> Quail Forever, AWWG members. "Farm Bill
    conservation programs are critical to
    <http://www.trcp.org/assets/pdf/The_Economic_Value_of_Outdoor_Recreation.pdf
    > the more than $95 billion in economic activity annually contributed by
    hunting and angling, and Congress must strive to keep them operating as
    efficiently as possible."

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