Russ Schnitzer, (307) 438-1365
Steve Moyer, (703) 284-9406
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Trout Unlimited Praises Senate Reauthorization of Farm Bill, Urges Swift House Passage
Conservation Programs a Proven Investment in Nation's Outdoor Heritage and Rural Communities
Arlington, Va. — Trout Unlimited today commended the U.S. Senate for voting to reauthorize the Farm Bill and ensure that its highly successful conservation programs continue to enhance the nation’s fish and wildlife habitat while sustaining sporting opportunity and the economies of rural communities.
"The Farm Bill is one of the most effective conservation programs in our nation’s history," said Russ Schnitzer, agriculture policy advisor for Trout Unlimited. "For decades, the conservation title programs have helped farmers and ranchers improve millions of acres of fish and wildlife habitat while boosting their operational efficiency and bottom lines. These programs work — for agricultural producers, for rural communities, for anglers and hunters, for all Americans who care about reviving our economy and keeping our lakes, wetlands, and rivers and streams healthy."
TU praised Senate leaders who overcame budgetary and political pressures to pass the bill. "Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-KS) showed great leadership in forging a bipartisan consensus on the Farm Bill, as did Senate Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell," said Steve Moyer, vice president for government affairs for TU. "They understand how important these programs are in rural America."
Acknowledging the reality of budget constraints, Senate lawmakers approved significant reductions to the conservation title, but the cuts were reasonable and not crippling, said Moyer. "We appreciate that they used a scalpel, not a chainsaw." He also praised new features that make the conservation title more efficient and user-friendly.
TU urged House lawmakers to follow the Senate’s lead and pass its version of the Farm Bill this year. “We have conservation challenges that can’t wait,” noted Schnitzer. In the West, an epidemic of aging irrigation infrastructure is a drag on the agriculture economy, and on water resources that fish, wildlife and sportsmen depend on. In the Midwest and East, farmers and ranchers need tools to control nutrient-loading and sedimentation of rivers and streams and ensure water quality in downstream lakes, rivers and bays.
The Farm Bill includes many effective programs to address these problems, such as EQIP, which provides funds to help farmers and ranchers manage the impacts of grazing by providing funding for fences to protect streams and by promoting irrigation efficiency to save water for fish and fishermen. Other programs include one that provides grant money to encourage farmers and ranchers to make their lands accessible to hunting and angling, and another that allows the Forest Service to reinvest accrued money in culvert replacement and other fish passage improvements.
"Farm Bill conservation programs encourage partnerships and collaboration among farmers, agencies, and conservation groups such as Trout Unlimited," said Schnitzer. "The results speak for themselves—cleaner water, healthy soil, more abundant wildlife and fish populations, more viable farms and ranches, and stronger rural communities."
"Unless Congress acts, we are in danger of losing the hard-won gains we've made over decades," said Schnitzer. "Our rivers and streams can't wait. Our farms, ranches, and rural communities can't wait. We need these programs working for America."
Trout Unlimited is a non-profit organization with more than 147,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. Follow TU on the TU blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter via @TroutUnlimited.