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For Conservation, It Was Not a Very Good Year

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January 04, 2013

For Conservation, It Was Not a Very Good Year

By Bob Marshall

As political pundits attempt to assess the impact of the fiscal cliff deal struck by Congress earlier this week, it is becoming increasingly clear that the biggest loser may have been conservation. Here’s what happened, and where we stand:
 
- The biggest immediate blow may have come when the House refused to pass the new Farm Bill, instead giving a nine-month extension to the old bill. That cast ominous shadows of uncertainty over many of the nation’s most effective and proven habitat conservation measures, including Conservation Reserve, Grasslands Reserve and Wetlands Reserve programs. While it is believed legal authorization for those initiatives has been extended, there has been no additional funding.
 
“There may be some (funding) left to carry some of those programs forward, but no one is sure yet how much that is and how long it can last,” said Steve Kline, Director of the Center for Agriculture and Private Lands at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
 
That means farmers waiting for enrollment in these programs could decide to put their lands to other uses that bring income immediately. With CRP already down more six million acres since 2007, these loses will add to the already spiraling decline in upland hunting traditions in states like Iowa, which even The New York Times has noticed.
 
Equally damaging, by not acting on the Farm Bill the House killed a landmark breakthrough that would have begun tying compliance to habitat conservation programs like Sod Buster and Swamp Buster to taxpayer subsidies for crop insurance, an economic lynchpin for farmers. The equation was simple and long-overdue: We’ll help pay for your insurance if you give the nation something in return – namely, conservation of the land that helps fish, wildlife and even farming. It would have gone a long way to securing the future of some programs.
 
The extension of the old bill doesn’t hold that key feature – one, by the way, that would have saved the nation tens of millions of dollars over the life of the next bill.
 
Incredibly, one of the features that was passed with the extension is direct payments to farmers for commodity crops – such as corn, beans and cotton - estimated to cost $5 billion a year and which would have been eliminated under the full five-year farm bill.
 
- The fiscal cliff agreement postponed for two months, rather than eliminated, the sequestration budget cuts required by the Budget Control Act of 2012. That means conservation programs will likely be in for more budget cutting.
 
- The Sportsman’s Act, which would have provided funding for critical fish and wildlife habitat,  created more shooting ranges, and given sportsmen easier access to millions of acres of public lands, was torpedoed when senators engaged in a spate of post-election revenge taking.
 
All of which means conservation, once again, has been placed at the very bottom of the bottom-line. And that means the future of conservation programs that have long provided the habitat base providing American sportsmen with the greatest public hunting and fishing experiences in the industrialized world – and the nine million jobs that depend on those traditions – remain on a knife’s edge.
 
It has been a tremendously deflating experience for the staffs at the many sportsmen’s conservation groups who worked long hours over the last year in attempts to salvage something for fish and wildlife in a desperate and poisonous political environment.
 
By Wednesday they were already sifting through game plans for what will likely be an even tougher 2013 environment for their causes.
 
“So here we go again, probably facing even more cuts in the coming (battles over sequestration and the debt limit), even before we get to the appropriations process for the next fiscal year,” said Kline.
 
“I think the real important message sportsmen have to have is that this notion that we can’t afford conservation during hard times is simply not true. Cutting conservation is tremendously short-sighted and ends up costing us much more in the long run than we save in the short term – and not just to fish and wildlife, but to the health of the nation’s land and future productivity.
 
“Getting that message out (to Congress) is really essential. That’s our battle.”

Comments (8)

Top Rated
All Comments
from capt.seagull wrote 1 year 14 weeks ago

I am big on conservation. to bad :(

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 14 weeks ago

Partisanship is going to be the ruin of our country.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 1 year 14 weeks ago

I'm not so big on the farm bill parts. Private land is closed to me. Sportsmens bill was a big loss.

Increasingly hunting and fishing is becoming a sport only the well to do can afford. Winter range controlled by ranchers who can make more from out of state hunters at $10K a piece than they can cows. Wilderness access via guided hunts where your camp is set up, food cooked, animals spotted, for you. Here even the rivers and creeks are owned.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 1 year 14 weeks ago

This is quite the sob story!!! How about we call the "Farm Bill" what it is welfare! Bob you do one h3ll of a good job at overlooking the real thing and you have many mindless supporters following you hook line and sinker!!! It's very funny yet very sad that this so called "Farm Bill" is actually called that, don't you think? Just 6% of this monstrousity actually goes to conservation. So if you truly are a conservationist why not petition the congress to pass a bill strictly for conservation and not to be used for anything but. However I don't believe that is your M.O. is it? Many on this site are to lazy to do the research but there are some of us that are not to lazy or stupid to follow a blogger.

For those who really care about conservation and not about demeaning Conservatives here is the breakdown of the so-called "Farmbill"

1)Total cost = $993 Billion dollars

2)$772 Billion or (78%) goes to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). A.K.A Food Stamps

3)$156 Billion (16%) goes to farm commodity and crop insurance.

Last but not least!

4)$64 Billion (6%) goes to agricultral conservation.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from amoor983 wrote 1 year 14 weeks ago

“I'm not so big on the farm bill parts. Private land is closed to me”- This is very shortsighted. Even from a western standpoint where there are vast swaths of public land. Just because you don’t hunt wildlife on private land doesn’t meant that those animals aren’t born, or go to feed, or spend their winters on private land. The farm bill also expends billions of taxpayer dollars. Would you prefer these funds as hand outs- no strings attached? Or would it be wiser to offer a safety net to farmers in exchange for wise stewardship of soil, water and wildlife? Not only does private land produce the lion’s share of this nation’s energy, it also produces most of our food, and whatever is left is habitat for the flora and fauna that we all enjoy. Everyone that pays taxes, or hunts, or watches birds, or eats food, or consumes energy has a stake in the farm bill. If wildlife conservation is going to succeed at all, it must succeed on private land.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

Amoor983,
"Everyone that pays taxes, or hunts, or watches birds, or eats food, or consumes energy has a stake in the farm bill". Yes those of us who work and pay taxes and those who benefit from willy~nilly welfare handouts. Those of us in the lower middle class as I am, get hurt more by this crap than anyone else. Welfare has gotten out of control to the point of being an epidemic in this country. Welfare & Disability doesn't get monitored and is killing the country but all the "Gimmiedatz" don't give a flying duck as long as they get theirs.

This bill isn't a farmbill it is a welfare bill hidden by Propagandist name! This bill is an absolute joke and should continued to be not passed until it actually does what it says in its name. Not to mention farmers are doing pretty darn well and could afford a subsidie cut!

I will back a conservation bill 100% when one truly comes out until then I will read these silly articles by so-called enviromentalist.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

New Zealand

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

...and I'll say it again!

I still feel we should follow in New Zealand's footsteps and do away with ALL Gov't farm subsidies!
When New Zealand's farmers decided they'd had enough Gov't intervention and voted to drop subsidies, less than 1% of existing farms went out of business.
Since that time (1986 I think?) New Zealand's agricultural community has grown by leaps and bounds and the Gov't has saved BILLIONS!
Not only did agricultural markets become more profitable, conservation went off the map! There is now cleaner water, cleaner air, more game and fish than ever before! There is even more land open to hunters and fishermen.
At this point, at the request of New Zealand's sheep farmers, the Gov't is doing some sheep research the farmers could not afford.

The proof's in the pudding! Look it up yourselves!

Gov't intervention has strings attached! Be careful what you wish for!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from capt.seagull wrote 1 year 14 weeks ago

I am big on conservation. to bad :(

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 14 weeks ago

Partisanship is going to be the ruin of our country.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from amoor983 wrote 1 year 14 weeks ago

“I'm not so big on the farm bill parts. Private land is closed to me”- This is very shortsighted. Even from a western standpoint where there are vast swaths of public land. Just because you don’t hunt wildlife on private land doesn’t meant that those animals aren’t born, or go to feed, or spend their winters on private land. The farm bill also expends billions of taxpayer dollars. Would you prefer these funds as hand outs- no strings attached? Or would it be wiser to offer a safety net to farmers in exchange for wise stewardship of soil, water and wildlife? Not only does private land produce the lion’s share of this nation’s energy, it also produces most of our food, and whatever is left is habitat for the flora and fauna that we all enjoy. Everyone that pays taxes, or hunts, or watches birds, or eats food, or consumes energy has a stake in the farm bill. If wildlife conservation is going to succeed at all, it must succeed on private land.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 1 year 14 weeks ago

I'm not so big on the farm bill parts. Private land is closed to me. Sportsmens bill was a big loss.

Increasingly hunting and fishing is becoming a sport only the well to do can afford. Winter range controlled by ranchers who can make more from out of state hunters at $10K a piece than they can cows. Wilderness access via guided hunts where your camp is set up, food cooked, animals spotted, for you. Here even the rivers and creeks are owned.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 1 year 14 weeks ago

This is quite the sob story!!! How about we call the "Farm Bill" what it is welfare! Bob you do one h3ll of a good job at overlooking the real thing and you have many mindless supporters following you hook line and sinker!!! It's very funny yet very sad that this so called "Farm Bill" is actually called that, don't you think? Just 6% of this monstrousity actually goes to conservation. So if you truly are a conservationist why not petition the congress to pass a bill strictly for conservation and not to be used for anything but. However I don't believe that is your M.O. is it? Many on this site are to lazy to do the research but there are some of us that are not to lazy or stupid to follow a blogger.

For those who really care about conservation and not about demeaning Conservatives here is the breakdown of the so-called "Farmbill"

1)Total cost = $993 Billion dollars

2)$772 Billion or (78%) goes to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). A.K.A Food Stamps

3)$156 Billion (16%) goes to farm commodity and crop insurance.

Last but not least!

4)$64 Billion (6%) goes to agricultral conservation.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

...and I'll say it again!

I still feel we should follow in New Zealand's footsteps and do away with ALL Gov't farm subsidies!
When New Zealand's farmers decided they'd had enough Gov't intervention and voted to drop subsidies, less than 1% of existing farms went out of business.
Since that time (1986 I think?) New Zealand's agricultural community has grown by leaps and bounds and the Gov't has saved BILLIONS!
Not only did agricultural markets become more profitable, conservation went off the map! There is now cleaner water, cleaner air, more game and fish than ever before! There is even more land open to hunters and fishermen.
At this point, at the request of New Zealand's sheep farmers, the Gov't is doing some sheep research the farmers could not afford.

The proof's in the pudding! Look it up yourselves!

Gov't intervention has strings attached! Be careful what you wish for!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

Amoor983,
"Everyone that pays taxes, or hunts, or watches birds, or eats food, or consumes energy has a stake in the farm bill". Yes those of us who work and pay taxes and those who benefit from willy~nilly welfare handouts. Those of us in the lower middle class as I am, get hurt more by this crap than anyone else. Welfare has gotten out of control to the point of being an epidemic in this country. Welfare & Disability doesn't get monitored and is killing the country but all the "Gimmiedatz" don't give a flying duck as long as they get theirs.

This bill isn't a farmbill it is a welfare bill hidden by Propagandist name! This bill is an absolute joke and should continued to be not passed until it actually does what it says in its name. Not to mention farmers are doing pretty darn well and could afford a subsidie cut!

I will back a conservation bill 100% when one truly comes out until then I will read these silly articles by so-called enviromentalist.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

New Zealand

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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