U.S. Representatives John Garamendi (CA) and Collin Peterson (MN) met with Sacramento Valley waterfowl hunters, rice growers, ranchers, and conservation groups last December at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. The forum, hosted by DU, was an informal open discussion of issues facing farmers, hunters, and conservationists. Topics included water issues, the Farm Bill and farm subsidies, budget cuts, and the future of conservation. Representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Central Valley Joint Venture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and other DU partners also attended the gathering.
At the time of the meeting, the future of the Farm Bill was in flux, with both the House and Senate debating where the necessary cuts would fall. Significant cuts to the Farm Bill could have a big impact on the region's rice industry and on vital habitat for millions of migrating waterfowl.
Throughout the meeting, Garamendi, who represents California's Third Congressional District, called for everyone—rice farmers, ranchers, conservationists, and all concerned parties—to make their voices heard, not just when bills are up for debate, but year-round. "We can't do this without your input," Representative Garamendi said. "We have to know how you feel and how our decisions affect you. But unless you tell us, we have no way of knowing. Write to us, e-mail us, or call us, but let us know what it is you want. That's the only way to keep Congress going in the right direction."