The Mule Deer Foundation lauded the final, bipartisan agreement on the Farm Bill today as a tremendous victory for conservation. The bill released by House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership shows the determination of both parties to reach a compromise that will enhance conservation efforts and maintain rural communities.
“This is a win for wildlife and we are grateful for the hard work and dedication of Representatives Frank Lucas and Collin Peterson along with Senators Debbie Stabenow and Thad Cochran to craft a final Farm Bill agreement that will benefit conservation for the next five years,” said Miles Moretti, President of the Mule Deer Foundation.
Several key provisions important to MDF and its conservation partners were included in the compromise bill. The bill maintains a “stewardship contracting” program that allows groups like MDF to partner with the U.S. Forest Service to help maintain forest health on almost 193 million acres within the national forests. In addition, “conservation compliance” provisions that require basic conservation efforts in order to receive federal crop insurance as well as a “sodsaver” provision to protect remaining native grasslands were included in the final bill. Core conservation programs like the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program that have helped the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s sage grouse initiative were maintained. Finally, the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentives or “Open Fields” Program that provides grants to landowners that allow public hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing access on their property was allocated $40 million per year.
“The Farm Bill has long provided private landowners with financial support to make good conservation decisions and keep them on their lands – mule deer thrive on private lands and we have to be able to work proactively with farmers and ranchers to make decisions that will benefit deer and all wildlife,” Moretti continued. “This is a big day for conservation and wildlife and shows the good things that can happen when members of Congress work together in a bipartisan way.”
Logo courtesy Mule Deer Foundation