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Banding Together for Waterfowl

The Farm Bill, Ducks and You

DU members must act now to save agricultural conservation programs that help sustain waterfowl populations
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What You Can Do

To ensure that DU's conservation goals are met and our waterfowling heritage is protected, every DU member must let their elected officials know that they support agricultural conservation programs like CRP and WRP and a Sodsaver provision in the next Farm Bill. As a taxpayer and voter, you have great power if you choose to use it. While we can all agree that the current fiscal situation of our federal government is untenable and that spending cuts and restraint need to be exercised for the good of our children and grandchildren, the cost of Farm Bill conservation programs is only a drop in the bucket compared to expenditures on other programs. Conservation also provides a high return on investment for taxpayers. By providing habitat for wildlife and places for people to pursue outdoor recreation, CRP, WRP, and other agricultural conservation programs are also vital to the nation's hunting and fishing economy, which generates more than $80 billion a year and supports more than 1.6 million jobs. Deep cuts to agricultural conservation programs will not only adversely affect populations of waterfowl and other wildlife, but also the economy, especially in rural areas, while doing little to reduce the national debt.
Friends in High Places This past June, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow was the featured guest at the Michigan DU state convention. A longtime supporter of DU and conservation, Senator Stabenow is chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and will be directly involved in writing the 2012 Farm Bill.

"Input from sportsmen and -women and groups like Ducks Unlimited is critical as we find practical, workable solutions together that address the natural resources challenges that we're facing here in Michigan and that stretch every taxpayer dollar to get the absolute best return on our investment," Senator Stabenow said, while addressing the convention.

Support from influential members of Congress like Senator Stabenow will be essential to achieving a wildlife-friendly Farm Bill in 2012.

There are several ways that you can take action to save Farm Bill conservation programs. One of the best ways is to write letters or send e-mails to your members of Congress.

Phone calls also carry a lot of weight. Congressional staff will write down your opinions and make sure your elected officials are aware of them. However, the best way to influence members of Congress is to meet them in person. When you take the time to schedule a meeting with a representative or senator, he or she will understand that this is an important issue to you and other likeminded constituents.

This is not the first time in our nation's history that we have faced tough times, and it won't be the last. Even during the Great Depression, however, our nation's hunter-conservationists were thinking ahead. In 1934, sportsmen lobbied for and helped pass the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act, requiring waterfowlers to purchase a federal duck stamp each year to hunt ducks and geese.

Imagine the leadership that was required to create a new fee on anything during the Great Depression, let alone duck hunting? Nevertheless, waterfowlers of that era recognized that new funding was required to conserve sufficient habitat to sustain healthy populations of ducks and geese. Today's waterfowlers and other conservationists face a similar challenge with the 2012 Farm Bill. To ensure a secure future for waterfowl, and our waterfowling traditions, we must act now. And just like our waterfowling forefathers of the 1930s, we can't afford to wait.

Dan Wrinn is director of public policy at DU's Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C.
New Partnerships Benefit Migratory Birds With state and federal budgets tightening, DU is working harder than ever to maximize limited resources available for wetlands and waterfowl conservation. In 2010, DU joined the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in a partnership to provide alternative seasonal wetland habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds potentially affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Known as the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (MBHI), this partnership provided 470,000 acres of seasonal wetland habitat in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.

MBHI was so successful that the NRCS announced in August that it will expand this work into the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Iowa and Minnesota. Through the new Northern Plains Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative, the NRCS will invest $10.8 million in restoring and enhancing vital wetland habitat in these key waterfowl production states.

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