WASHINGTON, D.C., July 28, 2005 – Ducks Unlimited (DU), the world leader in wetland and waterfowl conservation, represented major sportsmen-conservationist organizations in Washington, D.C., at a Congressional hearing on Capitol Hill regarding the future of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
Jeff Nelson, director of DU's Great Plains regional office in Bismarck, N.D., (which covers eight north-central states including North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Minnesota) testified in a hearing before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Forestry, Conservation and Rural Revitalization in preparation for the 2007 Farm Bill. During the testimony, Nelson made a strong case in support of CRP being reauthorized in the next Farm Bill.
"No program in history has done more for providing landowners with stable and diversified income while providing an incredible amount of landscape level conservation of wildlife habitat, soil and water," said Nelson.
The subcommittee called the hearing to assess the present implementation status of CRP, provide a forum for comment from agricultural producers, USDA agencies and conservation organizations on the efficacy of the program, and also to hear comments on how CRP can be improved within the 2007 Farm Bill.
Nelson, representing 18 sportsmen-conservationist organizations--whose combined constituency represents several million supporters—discussed the multiple benefits CRP provides and the challenges facing the program. Providing examples of how CRP is making a positive impact on agricultural producers and citing the high demand for CRP among landowners, Nelson demonstrated the need for continued support of the program, and reauthorization in the 2007 Farm Bill.
"Today's goal was to explain the benefits that CRP has brought to landowners, the landscape and to local economies,” Nelson explained. “There are a few misconceptions about this program, and we wanted to present data that shows CRP helps rural landowners and areas.
“Given all of the benefits of CRP to farmers and ranchers, the environment and the American public, we cannot afford the loss of CRP authorization in the next Farm Bill,” Nelson told the subcommittee.
“Such a loss would negate many of the documented wildlife and other environmental benefits that resulted from CRP over the past 20 years,” he said. “New economies are emerging that are founded on the multiple benefits provided by CRP lands. These include wildlife-based tourism and associated small businesses that accommodate visitors.”
Dave Nomsen of Pheasants Forever also attended the hearing. In reaction, he said, “In 2007, over 16 million acres of CRP contracts will terminate, with an additional 6 million acres expiring the following year. CRP should continue as USDA’s flagship conservation program and be reauthorized with a focus on enhancing and expanding CRP’s wildlife legacy.”
Scott Sutherland, DU's director of Governmental Affairs, added, "It was encouraging to hear the subcommittee’s chairman, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and the ranking minority member, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, (D-Ark.), both state strong support for CRP and recognize its important role on the conservation landscape. We hope the subcommittee will fight to maintain this very popular program that offers both financial and environmental returns to the American public."
The testimony Ducks Unlimited provided also represented the views of the Archery Trade Association, Bowhunting Preservation Alliance, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, International Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, Izaak Walton League of America, Land Trust Alliance, National Wildlife Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation, North American Grouse Partnership, Pheasants Forever, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, Texas Wildlife Association, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Whitetails Unlimited, Wildlife Management Institute and Wildlife Mississippi.
Contact: Bart James
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands − nature’s most productive ecosystem − and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres each year.