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DU recognizes Senate agricultural committee's progress on 2012 Farm Bill

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – April 23, 2012 – Ducks Unlimited compliments the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and its chairwoman, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, on the April 20 introduction of the 2012 Farm Bill in the Senate. DU Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Director Becky Humphries commented on the bipartisan effort to ensure that conservation is a key component of the Farm Bill, benefiting agricultural producers, sportsmen and women and the general public.

"DU is pleased that the chairwoman and the committee included key conservation elements such as the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program and a new regional partnership program that contribute to soil, water and wildlife benefits," Humphries said. "The bipartisan committee had to make difficult cuts and streamline programs, while ensuring producers maintained effective conservation tools that have been the backbone of private land conservation in previous farm bills."

The new regional partnership program is an innovative approach to targeted conservation activities for watersheds in critical need, such as the Great Lakes. "This program will incentivize collaboration among federal, state and private partners to target and focus conservation efforts in watersheds to improve water quality and reduce sediment, giving landowners and the general public a bigger bang for their buck," Humphries explained. "Hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers will benefit as well, due to the increased conservation efforts on working lands."

Creative ideas to help farmers obtain added benefits from conservation practices, such as limited haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program lands, will give landowners more flexibility and use of their conserved lands, while saving taxpayer dollars by reducing payments on these higher-use lands.

While DU is pleased with this initial framework, the organization remains concerned about maintaining strong protections for critical wetlands via the Swampbuster program, and advancing protections for native grasslands on continentally important landscapes such as the Prairie Pothole Region in the Dakotas.

"Wetlands are critical not only as waterfowl and other wildlife habitat, but also to help improve water quality and reduce flooding for downstream residents," Humphries said. "As the world leader in wetlands conservation, DU and our more than 1 million supporters and partners stand ready to work with Congress to maintain strong wetland protections like Swampbuster, which are critical to the future of continental waterfowl populations and our nation's hunting heritage."

DU is also strongly encouraging Congress to include a Sodsaver provision in the Farm Bill to maintain native grasslands for wildlife and ranchers and discourage taxpayer-incentivized conversion of marginal lands not well suited for crop production.

"DU looks forward to working with Chairwoman Stabenow and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry as the 2012 Farm Bill moves towards the Senate floor, and hopefully in the House in the near term," Humphries said. "DU remains committed to playing a critical and supportive role to ensure the Farm Bill conservation title gives agricultural producers the programs and tools they need to manage and maintain productive soil and water resources, while generating benefits for waterfowl, hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers."

Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, DU is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, with special events, projects and promotions across the continent. Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/ducksunlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/ducksunlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/ducksunlimitedinc.

Media Contact:
Kristin Schrader
(734) 623-2000

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