Sen. Roy Blunt (MO) welcomes Ducks Unlimited to Missouri for the 2014 National Convention and talks about public policies affecting waterfowl.
DU: DU is in St. Louis this month for our annual convention and has more than 20,000 members in Missouri. Talk about the importance of sportsmen in your state.
Sen. Blunt: First of all, welcome to St. Louis and welcome to Missouri. For those people who support Ducks Unlimited, conservation has been a big issue in Missouri for a long time. We are a hunting and fishing state; more than a million people in our state buy hunting and fishing licenses every year. Those sportsmen spend close to $2 billion in what they’re doing to support the sport they are a part of. Missourians in 1976 did an incredible thing by voting for a permanent sales tax for conservation. And that tax produces about $100 million we use in our state beyond what hunters and fishers provide fore in our licenses. This has allowed us to conserve land and to use land in ways we would have never been able to do. When you are in St. Louis and Missouri, you are in a hunting and fishing state. You are in a state where Ducks Unlimited is important to what we do and why do it, and I am glad you are here.
DU: You are the Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and also sit on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee. Why is it important to adequately fund conservation programs?
Sen. Blunt: I think these conservation programs mean so much to the future of the sport but also the future of what we are as a country, what we look like as a country, and what our outdoor environment is like. So much of what can happen for sportsmen and for wildlife can be very much incorporated with active agriculture. The programs we have in our country that support [conservation], the programs in the new farm bill that support [conservation] are designed to allow agriculture and sporting to be harmonious in what they do. [They] set aside the proper amount of environment for wildlife, but also encourage agriculture where it can to supplement and encourage that wildlife, whether it is a rice field in southeast Missouri, whether it’s a cornfield, whether it’s getting ready for the fly over that we look forward to every year in our state of ducks and geese. It’s an important thing.
Watch the rest of Sen. Blunt’s interview on the Ducks Unlimited YouTube page.