Landowner discusses importance of Farm Bill, Wetlands Reserve Program with aides
VICKERY, Ohio – June 12, 2007 – Ed Moxley, a Vickery, Ohio, landowner, joined three other landowners from Indiana, Tennessee and Mississippi in Washington, D.C., on May 22-24, as part of the Ducks Unlimited-sponsored farmer fly-in program. Through this program, farmers fly to D.C. to educate and inform legislators of the importance of the 2007 Farm Bill Conservation Provisions, and specifically funding for the Wetlands Reserve Program as part of the Farm Bill conservation title.
Moxley met with Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-5th), as well as aides from the offices of Ohio Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-9th) and Ralph Regula (R-16th), and Sens. George Voinovich and Sherrod Brown. They discussed the ins and outs of the Farm Bill and of the Wetlands Reserve Program, and the importance of its renewal to landowners and farmers across the country.
“The congressional aides were receptive and aware of the potential plight of the Farm Bill, its strengths and shortcomings,” said Moxley, owner of 270 wetland acres in Erie County. “Even though ethanol and alternative energies are so big right now, there’s still a push in Washington for conservation and putting a higher value on the land than just a spot to plant corn.”
One of the key topics discussed during the fly-in was the additional funding necessary to keep the Wetlands Reserve Program going. Every year, enrollment in the Wetlands Reserve Program exceeds its financial backing by a factor of three to one. Even though the Wetlands Reserve Program is already included in House Agriculture Chairman Colin Peterson’s current proposal, the funding is still far from secure, due to the expiration of the program and the 2002 Farm Bill.
“Even though the Wetlands Reserve Program is getting a lot of verbal support from farmers, landowners and conservation and farm groups, it’s up to Congress to find the dollars to continue this program,” said Gildo Tori, director of public policy at Ducks Unlimited’s Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office. “The Wetlands Reserve Program is the best wetland restoration program for private landowners, is in high demand and is a win-win for farmers and taxpayers and those that love wildlife, clean water and a healthy environment.”
Another topic Moxley discussed with policymakers was the appraisals process associated with the Wetlands Reserve Program. Moxley and a majority of U.S. landowners want to change Farm Bill policy and revert the appraisals process to that of pre-2003. This offers landowners a fairer deal to have their property enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program.
“You have to make conservation economically viable for farmers, or it can’t compete with other commodities,” said Tori. “The Wetlands Reserve Program isn’t land retirement—it’s growing a different crop on land that isn’t suitable for corn, beans and other traditional crops. On Wetlands Reserve Program land, we’re growing conservation—wildlife and water quality—which feeds the needs of society and our environment.”
What can farmers and landowners do if they can’t make a trip meet with legislators in Washington?
“As voters, we have an opportunity to express our views to legislators constantly,” said Moxley. “And in the day-to-day, congressmen love to talk to their constituents. You don’t need to fly to D.C. to make your voice heard. Invite your representatives to dedication ceremonies for restored wetlands, correspond regularly and visit with them when they’re back in their district. Be political, aware and active citizens and landowners so that we can keep conservation alive in America.”
Contact: Kristin Schrader
Public Affairs Coordinator
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization, with almost 12 million acres conserved. The United States has lost more than half of its original wetlands—nature’s most productive ecosystem—and continues to lose more than 80,000 acres each year.