WASHINGTON – Jan. 27, 2014 – After three long years of compromise, the four primary Agriculture Committee negotiators announced the final farm bill agreement today, and it enhances and strengthens vital polices for wildlife, sportsmen and women and all citizens.
The 2014 Farm Bill includes the conservation and sporting community’s top priority of re-coupling conservation compliance to crop insurance. Additionally, the bill includes an important Sodsaver program. Though DU advocated for a national Sodsaver program, the final bill includes a regional program that will affect the nation’s top duck producing states of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Both provisions are designed to encourage the conservation of our nation’s remaining wetlands and grasslands, which help keep our waters clean, prevent soil erosion and provide vital habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.
“The 2014 Farm Bill is arguably one of the best agriculture conservation bills for sportsmen and ducks that we’ve seen in a long time,” said DU CEO Dale Hall. “Our nation is currently experiencing a rate of wetland and native prairie loss not seen since the Dust Bowl. The proactive conservation programs included in the 2014 Farm Bill will help deter wetland drainage and incentivize the conservation of these valuable lands while keeping working farmers and ranchers on their land.”
More than $1 billion was also allocated for wetlands and grasslands conservation easements, representing some of the most successful private-lands conservation programs, providing a voluntary, non-regulatory, incentive-based way for private landowners, farmers and ranchers to protect and restore wetlands and grasslands on their property. The programs had expired and were not accepting new acreage enrollments.
Wetlands benefit humans and wildlife by ensuring clean drinking water, lessening the impact of floods, slowing the rate of habitat destruction and keeping working farms and ranches productive. In part due to the unintended consequences of current agriculture policy and advanced technology, the United States has lost of more than 70 percent of the nation’s native grasslands and 50 percent of its wetlands.
“DU congratulates Agriculture Committee Chairs Stabenow and Lucas, Senator Cochran and Congressman Peterson, the four principal negotiators of the 2014 Farm Bill, on their bipartisan accomplishment,” Hall said. “We urge the House and Senate to quickly pass the comprehensive 2014 Farm Bill to provide the agriculture and conservation communities with a solid policy foundation for the future.”