Sportsmen Criticize Proposed House Cuts to Farm Bill Conservation Programs

Sportsmen Criticize Proposed House Cuts to Farm Bill Conservation Programs

From Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership


WASHINGTON – As House appropriators deliberate the Department of Agriculture’s budget for fiscal year 2012, sportsmen are sharply criticizing cuts proposed for Farm Bill conservation programs instrumental to fish and wildlife habitat and hunting and fishing, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership announced today.

The House Appropriations Committee is meeting this afternoon to consider more than a billion dollars in reductions to mandatory conservation programs agreed to last week by the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. Conservation programs facing drastic cuts include the following:

  • The USDA conservation operations budget would be cut by $128 million.
  • The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) would be cut by $35 million.
  • The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) would be reduced by 64,200 acres.
  • The Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP) would be reduced by 96,000 acres.
  • The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) would be cut by $350 million.
  • Funding for the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA/HIP), also known as Open Fields, would be completely eliminated.

“Agricultural and private-lands conservation remains a cornerstone of the TRCP’s policy work, and the efforts of the TRCP and our partner organizations have been instrumental in bolstering vital conservation programs in previous Farm Bills,” said Steve Kline, director of the TRCP Center for Agricultural and Private Lands. “The reductions presently being considered represent a quarter century of taxpayer investment in conservation. Sportsmen strongly oppose these cuts.”


The TRCP’s farm policy work is guided by the Agriculture and Wildlife Working Group Agriculture and Wildlife Working Group, formed by the TRCP to provide recommendations to Congress and the administration on conservation programs in the 2008 bill. Composed of representatives from the nation’s leading sportsmen’s groups, the AWWG currently is developing recommendations for the 2012 Farm Bill.

“These proposed reductions will hamstring the USDA’s ability to responsibly manage priority fish and wildlife habitats and help landowners reduce potential threats to their operations associated with priority wildlife concerns such as lesser prairie chickens, sage grouse, and New England cottontail, all of which are candidate species for listing under the ESA,” said Jennifer Mock Schaeffer, Farm Bill coordinator for the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and AWWG chair.

“We prefer to use WHIP, EQIP, GRP and other conservation programs to help producers address these priority habitat concerns,” continued Mock Schaeffer, “and in the process to try to preclude the need to list the species. Cutting funding from these programs will eliminate opportunities to help private landowners and operators sustain their operations and secure these important wildlife habitats on privately owned lands.”


“Increasingly, sportsmen cite the inability to access lands and waters as an obstacle to hunting and fishing,” said Dave Nomsen, vice president of government affairs for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever and AWWG member. “VPA/HIP, or Open Fields, addresses this problem by encouraging owners of privately held farm, ranch and forest lands to enable public access to their properties for wildlife-dependent recreation. VPA was included in the 2008 Farm Bill thanks to the unflagging support of hunters and anglers, and American sportsmen now urge continued funding of this critical and strictly voluntary public-access program.”

The Farm Bill is a vital part of U.S. private-lands conservation. Millions of acres of fish and wildlife habitat and the hunting and fishing opportunities they provide have been conserved and enhanced through Farm Bill programs. The TRCP Agriculture and Wildlife Working Group is committed to ensuring that the 2012 Farm Bill authorizes and strongly funds conservation programs and builds on a conservation legacy that secures America’s outdoor heritage.

“While sportsmen acknowledge the need for the federal government to reduce spending levels, we can’t forget that Farm Bill conservation programs like WRP and GRP are the underpinning of the almost $80 billion dollars a year that hunters and anglers spend pursuing fish and game,” said Dan Wrinn, director of public policy for Ducks Unlimited. “Furthermore, many of these expenditures are in rural areas, where communities already are struggling in these hard economic times.”

Funding for Farm Bill conservation programs already was reduced by nearly $500 million in the FY 2011 budget, and the House’s proposed cuts cast further doubt on conservation funding in the 2012 Farm Bill. The Senate will be considering agriculture spending requests later this year.

Learn more about the TRCP’s agricultural- and private-lands conservation work.

Recommended for You

Bass

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

G&F Online Staff - May 20, 2019

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

Gear

Get Ready for Summer with Cordova Coolers

May 23, 2019

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide.

Records

State Records Reported in Maryland, Michigan

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

It must be time for summer fishing because records are falling everywhere.

See More Recommendations

Trending Stories

Catfish

10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - December 08, 2014

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a...

Catfish

Catfish Night & Day: How to Catch 'Em Both Ways

Terry Madewell - April 04, 2018

Catfish tend to be found in shallower water at night, but they are still active during the...

Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

See More Stories

More Stories

Stories

Arizona Mountain Lion Hunt Turns Into Dangerous Jaguar Encounter

Aaron Decker - November 30, 2011

A father and daughter with their dogs on a dry ground mountain lion hunt get more than they...

Stories

Coyote Calling Tips for Hunting at Close Range

Tim Lilley - January 09, 2014

Brian Meyer likes to have coyotes within 20 yards! He uses an SKB shotgun for his coyote...

Stories

Gear Reviews: New Coyote Hunting Rifles, Shotguns

Game & Fish Online Staff - September 07, 2018

Here's a look at some of coyote hunting rifles and shot gun featured in this summer's Game &...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×