Conservation and sportsmen’s groups across the country will be keeping a close eye on Washington, D.C., on Thursday, when the Senate Committee for Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry holds a hearing on the future direction for the 2018 Farm Bill.
As the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership said in a news release, the hearing takes place at a time when Congress and the administration are discussing ways to tighten an already trim conservation budget for the Farm Bill. Changes in the 2014 bill resulted in $4 billion in cuts from the conservation title alone, the news release said.
In advance of the hearing, the TRCP has released a nine-page document, “Sportsmen’s Priorities for Conservation and Access in the 2018 Farm Bill.”
Priorities outlined in the document include restoring funding for private lands conservation programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program, the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program.
In regards to CRP, the document calls for reauthorizing the program to a level of at least 35 million acres nationwide and expanding the working lands options, among other priorities.
“Private and working lands are crucial to the conservation of soil, water, and fish and wildlife resources, and as the largest source of federal funding for private lands conservation, the Farm Bill has far-reaching effects on fish and wildlife populations across the country,” Ron Regan, executive director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, said in a statement. “AFWA is looking forward to tomorrow’s hearing on conservation and forestry in the 2018 Farm Bill, and we are committed to working with the Senate Agriculture Committee and others in Congress to pass a new Farm Bill that reflects the priorities of the Association, as well as those of the wider sportsmen’s and conservation community, in order to promote recreational access and healthy fish and wildlife habitat for the benefit of all Americans.”