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Banding Together for Waterfowl

DU Farm Bill Team lead gives bill update

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What has DU done to help pass a 2013 Farm Bill?
The farm bill is one of DU’s top three public policy priorities, so our Governmental Affairs Office and regional staff have been hard at work educating DU members and legislators on its conservation value. Ducks Unlimited field staff hosted field tours for members of Congress and their staffs to educate them on conservation programs and the impact of those programs on working landscapes. DU participated in several coalitions and worked closely with Senate and House Agriculture Committee staff. We participated in Capitol Hill visits with farmers and ranchers, and partnered with the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation to put on a breakfast briefing regarding conservation programs within the farm bill and why they matter to sportsmen. Senior DU volunteers have made passing a comprehensive farm bill their top request to members of Congress. 

Ducks Unlimited developed working relationships within the agriculture commodity community, crop insurance industry and other conservation partners. Through these partnerships and our relationship with the Senate Agriculture Committee, DU was able to secure Senate support for re-coupling conservation compliance with crop insurance. We were also able to gain support for the inclusion of a national Sodsaver provision in the Senate-passed farm bill. While the House Agriculture Committee bill had neither of those provisions and the House ultimately failed to pass their farm bill, we were able to create support for re-coupling conservation compliance with crop insurance. Legislation was ultimately introduced in the House by Reps. Mike Thompson (CA) and Jeff Fortenberry (NE) to re-couple compliance and crop insurance, although this bill was not offered as an amendment to the House farm bill. As for a national Sodsaver provision, Reps. Kristi Noem (SD) and Tim Walz (MN) reintroduced the Protect Our Prairies Act. 

Our CEO Dale Hall wrote multiple op-eds that were published across the country and in Washington, D.C., about the importance of the conservation programs in the farm bill to all citizens by helping keep our waters clean in addition to providing waterfowl habitat. We also targeted key states to show support through letters to the editor and used social media to rally support for a five-year farm bill. Even now, we’re continuing to work within the community to keep the farm bill in the front of Congressmen before it expires in September.

Who are our partners in moving a farm bill forward?
After the House’s disappointing failure to pass a farm bill in the last Congress, Ducks Unlimited joined a coalition of agriculture and conservation organizations to collectively push for the passage of a five-year farm bill. It’s the first time groups of this breadth came together to work toward our common goal of long-term agriculture policy. This cooperation is a reflection of the fact that conservation is vital to production agriculture, and production agriculture is vital to conservation. DU strongly supports keeping our working farmers and ranchers on their land.

Just last week, DU joined more than 500 organizations in signing a letter to Speaker Boehner asking him to bring the farm bill back to the floor for a vote as soon as possible. It also advocates keeping the farm bill intact, and discourages separating out the nutrition title.

What can DU members do to help?
We’ve had good response from DU members when we’ve asked for help contacting your legislators in support of the farm bill conservation programs. More than 2,000 people contacted House members from every state using our action alert and messages from our social media days were seen more than 3 million times collectively. However, we should be able to rally support from far more of our members.

Contacting your House members and asking them to support a comprehensive farm bill when it comes back to the floor is biggest help we can get right now. You can use the page on the DU website to find your legislators on social media, or use their personal contact pages to send an email.

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