Good for Quail Too!

Pheasant Fest’s Farm Bill Forum Attracts Top U.S. Policy Makers

Pheasants Forever
(PF) announces the National Pheasant Fest 2007 Farm Bill Forum. At 10AM on Saturday, January 20th, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn. will participate in a panel discussion about the 2007 Federal Farm Bill. This is expected to be the first public appearance together for the two most influential people shaping the next Farm Bill. The Forum will be held in seminar rooms 7 & 8 on the lower level of HyVee Hall in the Iowa Events Center as part of National Pheasant Fest 2007 presented by Cabela’s.

PF vice president of governmental affairs Dave Nomsen, Des Moines Register farm editor Jerry Perkins, and Successful Farming business editor Dan Looker will serve as interviewers for the Farm Bill Forum. Senator Harkin and Congressman Peterson will both make opening remarks, which will be followed by questions from the panel. The Forum is scheduled to last 45 minutes and will be moderated by Bob St.Pierre, PF director of marketing & public relations. There will be 15 minutes available for additional questions from press in attendance.

“A strong conservation title in the Federal Farm Bill means cleaner air, cleaner water, protected soil resources, more habitat acres, and more wildlife. Hunters and farmers win with a strong conservation title. Sadly, we all suffer from a weakened one,” reported Howard Vincent, PF’s president and chief executive officer. “We are thrilled to welcome Senator Harkin and Representative Peterson, two long-time supporters of a strong conservation title, to National Pheasant Fest.”

One of the Farm Bill components most important to Pheasants Forever is the reauthorization and expansion of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Since CRP’s inception in 1985, no federal program has had a more dramatic influence on increasing wildlife populations and protecting our natural resources. In fact, CRP is responsible for doubling and tripling pheasant populations in a variety of regions across the U.S. pheasant range. The same program is also creating hope for the recovery of a U.S. quail population that has dropped by as much as 80 percent since 1980. In total, the conservation component of the 2007 Farm Bill will address land management decisions on hundreds of millions of acres of farmland, wetlands, forests, prairies, grasslands, rangelands, and riparian areas.

“Pheasants Forever has a tremendous record of working energetically and effectively from the local grassroots on through to the federal level for more habitat and higher quality habitat,” Harkin said. “I’m proud of my long association with Pheasants Forever and our excellent working relationship, and I’m looking forward to continuing that strong partnership as we write the next farm bill.”

Senator Tom Harkin has served on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry since his election to the Senate in 1984. Harkin has a long record of support for agricultural conservation programs that deliver cleaner water, reduce soil erosion, and promote habitat for wildlife. Harkin is a sportsman who has seen the effects of conservation programs like the Conservation Reserve Program on wildlife populations in Iowa fields firsthand, often in late October. As chair of the Agriculture Committee from 2001-2002, he successfully pushed for a substantial increase in conservation program funding, raising the commitment to conservation from about $11.2 billion in the 1996 farm bill to a projected $23 billion in the 2002 farm bill, allowing an increase of 2.8 million Conservation Reserve Program acres. Senator Harkin authored the Conservation Security Program, which pays farmers for the production of environmental goods through better conservation practices, including improving habitat on land currently in production.

“The members of Pheasants Forever are on the front lines protecting our natural resources and working locally to improve wildlife habitat. I am looking forward to speaking to this distinguished group and hearing from them about the practical ways we can improve federal conservation policy,” said Congressman Peterson.

In his ten years in the Minnesota State Legislature, Congressman Peterson helped establish programs such as the Chickadee Check-off, which continues to gather donations for wildlife programs that protect the lives of threatened and endangered species. Since being elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1990, Mr. Peterson has been a leading supporter of conservation programs in Congress. As a lifelong outdoorsman, he has consistently worked to protect, promote and enhance wildlife habitat and other natural resources and will continue to do so in his new role as Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture. In August 2006, Peterson received Pheasants Forever’s first Conservation Legacy Award for his long time leadership in support of the Conservation Reserve Program.

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