As we wrote on multiple occasions last summer, the U.S. Farm Bill has far-reaching implications on a variety of local and regional conservation and fisheries/wildlife habitat programs. In spite of the political rhetoric which focuses more on food stamps and agricultural subsidies, this legislation represents far more than that. For most of us in northern Michigan, calls need to be made to the office of Congressman Dan Benishek:
514 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4735
Fax: (202) 225-4710
What follows is a post on the issue written by our friend Marc Smith which appears on his Great Lakes Outdoors blog.
by Marc Smith, NMCN Content Contributor –
“The Farm Bill will be going to the House floor this week – by Wednesday – with a vote possible as early as Thursday. If you care about our Great Lakes, our wetlands and upland game habitat – you should care about the Farm Bill.
Farm Bill programs like CREP provide pheasant habitat and hunting opportunities. We are experiencing a rapid loss of wetland and grassland habitats from land conversion to agriculture and other uses. The Farm Bill is the largest conservation bill for private lands in our country. It’s no secret that passing this provides a unique opportunity for sportsmen to partner with the farming and ranching community to encourage conservation of fish and wildlife habitat. Farm Bill programs like the CREP, CRP and WRP have made millions of acres on America’s farms and ranches more attractive to fish and wildlife.
The recently passed Senate Farm Bill is a solid bill that accomplishes these goals. You can help our wetlands and grasslands up here in the Great Lakes region by calling your Congressman to vote yes on the Rep. Thompson-Fortenberry amendment that would reconnect conservation compliance to crop insurance subsidies.
Click here for more info on the Thompson-Fortenberry amendment: Conservation Compliance TF Bill June 2013.
This language is already in the Senate version and is supported by the Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers, American Association of Crop Insurance, Farmers Union, and tons of other commodity groups. Not to mention all the major sportsmen organizations.
Without conservation compliance reconnected to crop insurance subsidies, we will likely see between 1.5 and 3.3 million acres of wetlands converted to row-crop production. In addition, we will see more highly erodible land farmed without vital conservation practices. All of this could result in lost habitat, increased run-off, increased incidence of flooding downstream, and reduced hunting and fishing opportunities.
Moreover, both the Senate and the House Farm Bill each include significant new investments in our Great Lakes by creating a new regional conservation partnership program. This strategic program targets restoration efforts in key watersheds across the country. This new investment would further enhance our efforts to protect and restore our Great Lakes.
Do your part to help get a strong Farm Bill by contacting your Member of Congress to support the Thompson-Fortenberry amendment today.”