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MN, NE, OH, & SD Farm Bill Biologists Meet with USDA and Elected Officials

Saint Paul, Minn. – July 30 –Last week, Pheasants Forever (PF) and Quail Forever (QF) biologists met with officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and political leaders in Washington, DC. The meetings focused on conservation opportunities in the new Farm Bill. For PF/QF, the meetings marked an important transition from the Farm Bill legislative process to implementation.

“It’s important to remember the signing of a new Farm Bill into law is only the first step in the conservation process,” explained Dave Nomsen, PF/QF’s Vice President of Governmental Affairs. “Rules, regulations, appropriations, and promotion of conservation programs are all critical to the magic of turning law into habitat on the land.”

Joining Nomsen in Washington, D.C. last week were PF/QF Farm Bill biologists from Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, and South Dakota. PF/QF’s Farm Bill biologists work in USDA Service Centers providing conservation technical assistance to landowners. The Farm Bill biologist positions have only been around for five years, but the model of providing conservation technical assistance to landowners through PF/QF has proven incredibly successful.

“While each Farm Bill biologist may have a little different focus based on the conservation priorities in their particular state, the model of providing wildlife habitat conservation expertise in partnership with the USDA and other state partners has proven incredibly effective,” reported Jim Inglis, PF/QF’s Farm Bill Biologist Coordinator. Since 2003, Farm Bill biologists have provided conservation technical assistance to 18,000 landowners. Those relationships have translated into over 1 million acres of habitat improvements.

“Our key message was pretty simple; the Farm Bill biologist model is working spectacularly,” said Ron Leathers, PF/QF’s Government Grant Administrator, who started with PF as a Farm Bill biologist in 2003. “Our mission at Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever is habitat, and these Farm Bill biologists are definitely succeeding at putting habitat on the ground. Growing the Farm Bill biologist program is definitely part of our plan for implementing the new Farm Bill and fulfilling our habitat mission going forward.”

The group of Farm Bill biologists included Jason Selvog of Waite Park, Minn.; Jason Sykes of Nelson, Neb.; Doug Gorby of New Holland, Ohio; and Jim Ristau of Chamberlain, S.D. The biologists met with a number of USDA officials; including, Undersecretary Mark Rey, Deputy Undersecretary Melissa Simpson, and NRCS Chief Arlen Lancaster. The group also met with U.S. Congressman Collin Peterson (DFL-MN), Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture. Additionally, each Farm Bill biologist met with elected officials from their home states.

Selvog met with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) and U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD).

Sykes met with U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) and U.S. Congressman Adrian Smith (R-Neb), the Cornhusker State’s 3rd District Representative.

And, Ristau visited Senator Thune and U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), as well as U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD).

To contact a PF/QF Farm Bill biologist in your area, click here. If you’d like a photo of the Farm Bill biologist’s meetings in Washington D.C., please send an email request to ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are non-profit conservation organizations dedicated to the protection and enhancement of pheasant, quail, and other wildlife populations in North America through habitat improvement, land management, public awareness, and education. PF/QF has more than 129,000 members in 700 local chapters across the continent.