Dakota Country Magazine October 2016 Edition - Page 74

and millions of acres were left in waiting after the 2014 Farm Bill was concluded. In fact, when written, the bill was assembled behind closed doors by a conference committee. The end result of that product bore faint resemblance to the original proposal by both the Senate and the House. In the big picture, it’s difficult to find any opposition to regaining ground for the Conservation Reserve Program -- except for some places in Congress. “This year, America’s farmers are predicted to bring home a record harvest of corn and soybeans,” commented the Lincoln Journal Star. “But even with higher costs to the taxpayer in the Farm Bill, farm income is projected to be $54 billion, down from $123 billion in 2013 and $91 billion in 2014. The system is not working. Next time, Congress needs to try a different approach, starting with writing the next farm bill in public view.” The user-friendly website and advocacy app at CRPworks.org allows supporters to add their names to a petition asking lawmakers to reverse the downward trend in CRP losses, explaining that, among other things, “Without a strong CRP, the northern plains states would lose much of their duck breeding habitat, greater sage grouse in the West would be at greater risk of population decline, and brook trout would disappear from Eastern headwaters.” Productive Programs A beautiful example of working habitat programs lines up with the Working Wetlands Pilot Project (WWPP). In North Dakota, the program has been set up at The Union Grill & Bar • Open Mon-Sat @ 7, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner McClusky, ND • Open Sun 8 am-2 pm German Food • Bar Open Mon-Sat 3 pm - 1 am 10% Off Your Specials Every • On/Off Sale Meal with this Thursday • Homemade Pizza Coupon! Noon! • Catering & Chuck Wagon Service One Mile West Of Mcclusky On HigHWay 200 701-363-2704 Prime Rib every Saturday evening! Page 74, Dakota Country, October 2016 the Denny and Connie Ova farm north of Cleveland. The project is funded in part by the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund, which has contributed $1.75 million to the project. It pays landowners not to drain or alter small, seasonal wetlands. They’re still allowed to farm the area when workable, but the payment for the program makes up for losses created by Mother Nature. John Devney, vice president of U.S. policy for Delta Waterfowl, applied for the $1.75 million to the Outdoor Heritage Fund and got it, but the Natural Resource Conservation Service put in additional money and in-kind assistance, bringing the program total to just under $5 million. Best of all, WWPP is a mark of creativity that helps farmers, ranchers and landowners and rural communities stay in business. “It works fine for me,” said Ova, of the wetlands payment program, in a Bismarck Tribune article recently by Jenny Schlecht. Granted, there’s a lot of pressure on the agricultural community today. Programs like the Working Wetlands Pilot Project, CRP, North Dakota Private Land Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS), Walk-In Acres (South Dakota) and more, compensate landowners to conserve habitat without losses. Regarding PLOTS, in 2016 North Dakota similar acreage is available to hunters as last year, 730,000 acres. Triangular yellow signs mark land that’s available for hunters to walk without permission. At its peak, the PLOTS program sponsored about one million acres, but quality habitat is being demanded by hunters. “There’s tremendous interest in workings lands like PLOTS, and we could enroll a lot of acres into the program this way, but it’s not always the highest quality habitat. The department’s goal is still to get back www.dakotacountrymagazine.com