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Boone and Crockett Club Supports House Farm Bill
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Boone and Crockett Club worked closely with the U.S. House of Representatives, specifically the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, K. Michael Conaway (TX-11), on the Conservation and Forestry titles of the Farm Bill. The House Agriculture Committee approved a bill earlier this year that is beneficial to conservation and forestry in America.

"The Club has been closely involved with the Farm Bill since the early 1990s," said James L. Cummins, co-chairman of the Boone and Crockett Club's Conservation Policy Committee. "We are pleased this new bill focuses conservation to key forest, grassland, wetland and other wildlife habitats. This is a direct result of Chairman Conaway, Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-4), other members of the Committee and their staffs' hard work. We greatly appreciate the common-sense, balanced approach these great members of Congress were able to achieve."
The first Farm Bill was passed by Congress during the Great Depression in 1933. It is the primary agricultural and food production policy tool of the federal government that is re-authorized every five years. The bill is also a significant piece of environmental conservation legislation. The current bill, the Agricultural Act of 2017, expires in 2018. The House of Representative is expected to vote on the new Farm Bill this week, titled the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018.

"The Farm Bill is one of the largest single sources of conservation spending in the federal budget and it represents the single largest federal investment in private-lands conservation, so it is easy to see why it is so important," stated Paul Phillips, also a co-chairman of the Club's Conservation Policy Committee. 

With more than 74 percent of the land in the United States in private ownership, the Club places much emphasis on the conservation of private lands. In the Conservation Title, the Club worked to continue the highly successful Wetland Reserve Easement, which has been essential in helping restore wetlands habitat. One success story has been the recovery of black bear populations in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. The Club also worked to ensure that incentives for wildlife habitat improvement were increased, specifically in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and that funds were dedicated to the control of feral hogs, an invasive species that are destroying millions of acres of habitat for native species.

Phillips said, "We're especially pleased with the inclusions of forest management reforms that have been plaguing the U.S. Forest Service. Our forests have fallen into unhealthy condition affecting a diversity of resources, including big game populations. Less game affects hunter success rates, leading to a decrease in participation. Fewer people hunting mean a decrease in license sales, which equates to less money for state fish and wildlife agency operations. This is especially true with mule deer and elk in the West and white-tailed deer in the East."
Congressman Westerman - the only professional forester in the Congress - worked tirelessly on forest reform legislation and many of his provisions are included in the bill. 

"We greatly appreciate his depth of knowledge and passion to return our treasured national forests to healthier conditions for all Americans," said Cummins. "I have been working on the Farm Bill for 27 years and this is the best bill the House has ever passed for the betterment of conservation and the improvement of our nation's forests. They are to be congratulated."

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