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Rick Worthington Farm Bill For the Birds
by Rick Worthington, click here for bio

Program: Farm and Ranch Report
Date: September 12, 2017

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While the Farm Bill is crucial policy for agriculture, it's for the birds too.

The "State of the Birds 2017" report from the North American Bird Conservation Initiative says farm bill conservation programs are helping farmers and ranchers keep their land productive, while supporting birds and other wildlife species.

Andrew Schmidt with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, says privately owned land provides critical habitat.

"If you look at migratory birds, they're certainly not coming down that flyway avoiding private lands. So, how do we create that habitat throughout their range to allow those birds and species to thrive, keeping birds off the endangered species list, keeping common birds common?"

Schmidt says conservation provisions in the Farm Bill have helped stabilize populations of grassland birds. He also explains habitat work goes hand in hand with soil and water quality improvements.

"If you're trying to create good grassland habitat, that habitat is going to restore that landscape to its native plant community, which by extension will also assist with soil health, nutrient runoff and water quality and quantity issues."

The report makes recommendations for the 2018 Farm Bill, including increased funding for the voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs that benefit farmers and ranchers as well as grasslands and wetlands.

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