Washington, D.C. – December-17 –

Federal Farm

By a vote of 79-14, the U.S. Senate Friday passed its version of the Federal Farm Bill. Quail Forever (QF) supports the Farm Bill passed by the Senate, recognizing it as a strong foundation for conservation.

“We applaud U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) in helping craft a bill that’s strong on conservation,” said Dave Nomsen, QF’s Vice President of Government Affairs, “This Senate action is very good news in that it supports achieving a new Farm Bill early next year, diminishing the chances of extending the existing bill.”

“We are already working on recommendations to make the conservation provisions as strong as possible by combining various provisions from both bills the Senate and House bills, and we look forward to coming to an agreement that most strongly supports conservation,” Nomsen added.

Major conservation provisions in the bill include: • The reauthorization of CRP at its current level of 39.2 million acres. Maintaining CRP – the most successful conservation program in U.S. history – is crucial for the continued success of pheasant, quail and other wildlife populations. It also includes a new “Wildlife Habitat Program” from Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss that by improving stands of pine will stand to improve the success of species like quail and turkeys. • Open Fields provisions would augment state programs that expand sportsmen’s access and the use of best management practices for fish and wildlife. Often called “walk-in” programs, these programs are great not just because they provide for improved public access to private lands, but also because in most cases they require those lands be managed to optimize their value to fish and wildlife • Sodsaver provisions, which disallow crop insurance and disaster payments on grasslands converted to cropland, thus discouraging the destruction of native prairies. • The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and Grassland Reserve Programs (GRP) also received votes of confidence in the Senate Farm Bill. • Expansion and reconfiguration of the Conservation Security Program (CSP). In renaming the program the “Conservation Stewardship Program,” the Senate proposes to raise the program’s budget to $2 billion over five years, while enrolling 13 million acres per year. • The energy title of the bill includes several new incentive programs to help advance “next generation” biomass energy.