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Conservation programs remain a critical tool for Miss. farmers

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9th generation farmer discusses Farm Bill with Miss. delegation

CLARKSDALE, Miss., May 29, 2007 - Coahoma County farmer, Taylor Flowers, Jr. traveled to Washington D.C. last week to meet with representatives, senators and other policymakers about reauthorizing Farm Bill conservation programs, among them the Conservation Reserve Program and Wetlands Reserve Program. Flowers met individually with Miss. Reps. Chip Pickering, Gene Taylor, Bennie Thompson, and Roger Wicker, and Miss. Senators Thad Cochran and Trent Lott and their staff.

Flowers, accompanied by Ducks Unlimited staff, and several other U.S. landowners and farmers encouraged Congress to support a strong conservation title in the 2007 Farm Bill.

“I made this trip to Capitol Hill so our members of Congress could hear firsthand from farmers like me about the importance of maintaining a balance of well-funded conservation and commodity programs in the next Farm Bill,” said Flowers.

Flowers grows corn, soybeans, cotton and wheat on a family farm near Dublin. Flowers and his family are dedicated to conservation of Mississippi’s natural resources and participate in the Conservation Reserve Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, two of the Farm Bill’s conservation programs.

Ducks Unlimited’s motto during the crafting of the next federal Farm Bill is “Farm the best, conserve the rest.” Farm Bill conservation programs allow farmers to do just that.

“Letting our representatives in Washington know that their constituents are informed and concerned about the future of the Farm Bill is one of the best ways to ensure its reauthorization,” said Ross Melinchuk director of public policy for DU’s Southern Regional Office.

The Farm Bill conservation programs provide lump sum or annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to restore marginal cropland to its former wetland or natural condition. The Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program help control soil erosion, improve water and air quality, and enhance wildlife habitat.  The widely popular Wetlands Reserve Program is not authorized beyond this year and will go un-funded unless Congress acts to both reauthorize and fund the program in the 2007 Farm Bill. With 160,000 acres enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program, Mississippi ranks third in the nation.

“About five years ago I enrolled some low yield farm land in the Conservation Reserve Program. Now we enjoy the waterfowl, deer and quail hunting opportunities made possible by the cover on that land,” said Flowers.

As part of the restoration, trees were planted on Flowers’s land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. The conservation contract guarantees protection of this land for fifteen years. Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Flowers further helps to conserve soil and water on his farm.

After the existing contracts expire, Flowers intends to keep his property enrolled in these programs if the conservation provisions in the 2007 Farm Bill make it economically feasible.

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 alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.

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Contact:Jennifer Kross
601-956-1936
jkross@ducks.org

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Related:  mississippi

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