Habitat & Conservation  |  05/22/2023

Spring Policy Action: Advocating for Upland Birds

The PF&QF team in DC.

PF & QF Ramp Up Farm Bill Advocacy

By the PF & QF Government Affairs Team

With discussions around the 2023 Farm Bill continuing to heat up, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever has been busy on Capitol Hill working with partners and champions to advance our policy priorities.

President & CEO Marilyn Vetter made her first trip to Washington D.C. in her new role at the helm of “The Habitat Organization.” Marilyn shared her vision for the future of PF & QF with Congressional and Administration officials and our partners, emphasizing the importance of the Farm Bill to conservationists, producers, landowners, and rural communities. The PF & QF Government Affairs team met with Congressional offices and nongovernmental partners throughout the spring as elected officials and their staff begin the critical work of writing the legislation that will guide agricultural and conservation policy for the next five years.

In April, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing to solicit input from farmers, ranchers and partners on Farm Bill conservation programs. Led by Subcommittee Chairman Michael Bennet (CO) and Ranking Member Roger Marshall (KS), the panel heard feedback on how these programs could be improved to be more producer-friendly and effective on agricultural operations and private lands across the country. Similarly, the House Agriculture Committee has held several hearings and listening sessions on a range of topics, including forestry and conservation program in the Farm Bill.

In May, the Government Affairs team participated in a fly-in organized by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), with the goal of bringing together a wide range of conservation, sporting and forestry organizations to emphasize the need for strong conservation and forestry titles, including robust funding for these critical programs. As part of the fly-in, CSF hosted a lunch briefing for Congressional staffers and partners on Capitol Hill, with PF & QF’s Jim Inglis providing comments as part of a panel discussion.

As part of a day on the Hill with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation in mid-May, Jim Inglis joined a panel of wildlife, conservation and forestry groups to highlight Farm Bill conservation program priorities.

To close out the day, CSF and partners hosted a Farm Bill reception. We also had the pleasure of hearing from Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (MI), Sen. Roger Marshall (KS), and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (CA), all past or present Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus leaders. The three conservation advocates offered comments and personal stories on how hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation are important to them and their constituents, and why we need a strong conservation title in the 2023 Farm Bill.

In a city often filled with partisan bickering and fighting over hot-button issues, the event was an important reminder of how conservation can and does bring us together.

Members of Congress also continue to host field tours in their states and districts across the county to gain input from farmers, ranchers and stakeholders on what should be considered in the 2023 Farm Bill. We encourage all PF & QF members and supporters to reach out to your elected federal representatives and offer comments and personal stories on why conservation programs in the Farm Bill are important to you and your community. Perhaps you hunt on CRP lands made accessible because of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), or you’ve heard the whistle of bobwhites for the first time in years because of the work funded through Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Working Lands for Wildlife.

These programs are not just acronyms. They are making a real, tangible impact on you, your family, your friends, and our rural communities. These are the stories that decision-makers in Washington, D.C. desperately NEED to hear, and YOU can tell them by contacting your U.S. Representatives here.

Thank you to all of the PF & QF chapter leaders, volunteers, members, and supporters for your grassroots support of our priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill!