Daily Archives: November 25, 2012

Urge YES Vote on Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525)

The Senate last Thursday was unable to unanimously agree to waive certain procedural rules to allow a vote on the widely supported, bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525), the most important package of measures for the benefit of sportsmen in a generation.

It was on late Thursday afternoon, The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) learned that the expected vote on the Sportsmen’s Act would not take place. The Senate is now expected to vote on S.3525 on Nov. 26 after Senators return from the Thanksgiving recess and after one more procedural vote.

The NSSF remains optimistic that with continued support from hunters, target shooters, gun owners and sportsmen the bill will get a vote on Monday, Nov. 26 and pass the Senate by a large bipartisan margin.

Your phone calls and emails will make a difference and are appreciated. Be ready on November 26 to call your U.S.senators to ask them to vote YES on the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, S.3525.

This historic legislation includes the firearms industry’s top legislative priority, the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act (S. 838) that would clarify that ammunition is excluded from regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Anti-hunting groups led by the Center for Biological Diversity are suing the EPA to force a ban on traditional ammunition made with lead components that would devastate hunting and shooting sports participation, drive up ammunition prices by almost 200 percent on average and dry up conservation funding.

No less than 46 of the nation’s leading sportsmen and conservation groups including the NRA, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, American Sportfishing Association, the International Game Fish Association, the Center for Coastal Conservation, and the Boone and Crockett Club are championing S. 3525. This bipartisan legislation is strongly supported by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The Sportsmen’s Act is a package of 19 separate bills — the majority of sportsmen’s legislative priorities on Capitol Hill. (See below for an overview of the components of the bill.) A similar package of bills–the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 (H.R. 4089)–was passed by the House in the spring by a bipartisan vote of 276 to 146. Passage of this pro-sportsmen’s legislation will promote, protect and preserve our nation’s hunting, shooting and conservation heritage for generations to come.

Your voice must be heard! As you read this, anti-hunting forces are working to defeat S. 3525. So act now, call your U.S.Senators at 202-224-3121 and urge them to vote YES for the bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2012.

Sportsmen’s Priorities in the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012

The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act: Specifically excludes ammunition and fishing tackle from the Toxic Substances Control Act, preventing unnecessary regulations that could devastate hunting, shooting, conservation funding and the firearm and ammunition industries.

Making Public Lands Public: Requires that the 1.5 percent of annual Land and Water Conservation Fund funding is made available to secure public access to federal public land for hunting, fishing, and other recreational purposes.

Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act: Makes Pittman-Robertson funds available to states for a longer period of time for the creation and maintenance of shooting ranges. The bill encourages federal land agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities to maintain shooting ranges and limits liability for these agencies.

Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to urge your senators to SUPPORT the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012. To send an email or a letter to your U.S. senators click here.

Find complete contact information for your elected officials here.

Important 2012 Farm Bill Notice

Important 2012 Farm Bill Notice

KWF members and friends- as you may know, Congress is facing a very tight time-line in order to get a 2012 Farm Bill passed during the lame-duck session currently ongoing. Other issues, such as the ‘fiscal cliff’, may take precedence. Both the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee have passed their versions of the Farm Bill. The article below outlines some of the issues involved.

Tthe House leadership needs to schedule a vote on the Committee’s version and have it pass. Then the two versions can go to a Senate/House conference committee where an acceptable bill can be hammered out. If this does not happen by the end of the year farm programs will start falling through the cracks and Congress will have to start over in 2013, with new hearings, mark-up bills, votes and conferences. We need to get a bill passed this year.

Kansas House delegates need to hear from KWF supporters. Please urge your representative to work for a vote on the Farm Bill by the entire House. Your representative needs to hear from you before Thanksgiving. We realize that this is short notice but any contact you can make you’re your representative will be greatly effective.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].

‘Narrow window’ for passing full farm bill in lame duck

Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The window is rapidly closing for passing a five-year farm bill before the end of the year.

While theoretically it’s still possible for the House to pass the bill and for it to reach the president’s desk before the end of the year, chances are looking increasingly unlikely as attention is turned to the “fiscal cliff” in the lame-duck session of Congress, which kicked off Tuesday. Agricultural observers and top farm-state lawmakers say they have yet to hear any signal from House leadership on a path forward.

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said this week that he thinks something will happen but gave passage of a full bill low odds.

“There’s a very narrow window,” Roberts said. “It’s like that church window when you were sitting at the back, a little tired of the sermon, and you folded up your church bulletin into a paper airplane” and tried to get it through while a fan was blowing in the background.

In June, the Senate passed its version of the farm bill, a 1,000-page piece of legislation that would cost $970 billion and cut $23 billion from agricultural and nutrition programs over the next decade. The House Agriculture Committee passed its version in July, which would cut $35 billion, but the bill has been stalled on the House floor since.

House GOP leaders have been silent on the bill so far in the lame duck. Before the election recess, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he did not have enough votes because of divisions over food stamps, which make up about 80 percent of expenditures in the bill.

Disagreements over whether farm subsidies should pay producers when prices drop below a certain level have also divided House and Senate lawmakers with rural constituencies.

The two bills are relatively similar in their funding of rural conservation programs, including those that pay farmers to restore wildlife habitat and wetlands. The bills also both include rural energy programs, but the Senate bill provides $800 million in mandatory funding, while the House provides only discretionary funds subject to the whims of congressional appropriators.

If Congress does not pass the full farm bill on its own, there are a few routes it can take.

One is to do nothing, which has been the case since the old farm bill expired Sept. 30, and let programs run out of funding and authorizations. Under permanent law, antiquated farm policies from 1938 and 1949 would kick in and replace existing programs in 2013.

Just about everybody agrees that would be a disaster. Under those laws, for example, the government would be forced to provide $38-a-gallon price supports to milk producers beginning Jan. 1.

It would also set in motion a system of supply-side management when farmers begin planting in mid- to late April. The government would have to revert to setting yields for commodities and buying up surpluses in the market. Conservation and energy programs — several of which are not currently accepting new enrollments — would continue to be stalled.

The farm bills passed every five or so years by Congress typically prevent this from happening by suspending the provisions from the 1938 and 1949 legislation.

Most leaders in the agriculture industry agree there is slim chance of this scenario happening. But Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee, this week said he plans to use the threat of $38 milk to keep lawmakers focused on the bill during the lame duck.

“I want to keep the pressure on,” Peterson said.

Another option should Congress fail to complete a five-year bill would be to pass a three-month, six-month or yearlong extension of the 2008 farm bill with some changes, including the reauthorization of expired disaster assistance programs to help livestock producers hurt by the drought.

Before the election recess, House leaders tried to bring a one-year extension to the floor that dipped into conservation programs and direct farmer payments to offset the costs. They pulled the bill, though, when it became clear there weren’t enough votes.

This time around, though, an extension is looking more likely.

“We believe that the best solution going forward is to pass a five-year farm bill now. But let’s be honest and clear that there are a maximum of four weeks available to do that,” said Ferd Hoefner, policy director at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “You would need a week for the House floor action, you’d need a good 10 days, if not two weeks, for a very, very speedy farm bill conference, and then another week to get the conference reports to the floor.”

An extension would have to include a suspension of the permanent law provisions as well as funding for programs that lost their baseline funding Sept. 30, said Craig Jagger of Legis Consulting LLC, a former House Agriculture Committee staffer. These programs, which include a few conservation programs and several energy measures, would have to be offset elsewhere in the bill and would dip into money that’s available for writing a farm bill next year.

But it is still up in the air whether the House will even be able to pass an extension. Peterson on Tuesday vowed to fight an extension “to the death” and complained that GOP leaders haven’t talked to him at all lately about the farm bill.

“I’ve been trying to be optimistic, a good soldier — I’ve about had it,” said Peterson, who led the Agriculture Committee last Congress. “If it takes turning the Ag Committee into a partisan deal to get this done, I’ll do it, by opposing the extension. I’ll oppose the bill. This will not make it easy for them to get this done next year, I guarantee it. I am not going to be that easy to get along with.”

Senators cool to an extension

It’s even unclear what would happen to an extension in the Senate. Roberts, who has worked closely with Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) on the Senate version of the bill, said this week that he was opposed to an extension.

“An extension has all sorts of problems with it, and if we’re having problems now, why do they change as of next year?” Roberts said. “They don’t, and it gets even worse. You will probably have … a higher hurdle in regard to our expenditures and what we have to cut as far as deficit reduction next year than this year.”

An extension would likely bring work on the legislation past March of next year, when the Congressional Budget Office is due to release its next baseline figures for the farm bill, which help determine how much money will be available going forward. It is difficult to predict what CBO will say, but it likely won’t be good news.

“I don’t hold up much hope that Congress will come back and say we have more money,” said Dale Moore, deputy executive director for public policy at the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We really don’t expect the numbers to improve.”

Some conservative Republicans are calling on Congress to split the nutrition assistance section off from the rest of the bill, which would significantly reduce its size, but Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said yesterday he was “not sure we have the votes” for such an action.

Few other options remain for passing the bill in the lame duck. One is to attach it to another piece of legislation moving in the session. Senate agriculture leaders may also try to offer it up for cutting the deficit in the upcoming fiscal debate, but that is unlikely.

Yet the farming community is remaining optimistic.

“They will get something done. There’s a 100 percent chance of that,” Moore said. “But there’s only about a 15 percent chance that that something will be a new five-year farm bill. We’re holding out hope.”

Reporter John McArdle contributed.

Ranger Rick’s New Kids Website

Ranger Rick and Ricky are excited to unveil their NEW and Improved Ranger Rick Kids website!

The new and improved website is jam-packed with awesome content for kids and families including:

 Content from the NEW Ranger Rick Jr. magazine for beginning readers

 Ranger Rick magazine content including Ricks Adventures, surveys, activities and more!

 An expanded FREE Games section

 A Family Fun section with searchable indoor and outdoor activities

 New and improved Parents content

 An Educators section full of additional resources and programs for kids

 Plus much more!

NRCS Chief Dave White Retires

Dave White, Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), announced his retirement effective Dec. 3, 2012. Jason Weller has been named the Acting NRCS Chief.

White was a career conservationist with NRCS. He has provided technical and management expertise inMissouriSouth CarolinaWashingtonD.C. and Montana, where he served as State Conservationist from 2002 to 2008. White also served in the Senate Agriculture Committee where he helped craft the Conservation Title for both the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills. He also served on the White House Task Force for Livable Communities during the Clinton Administration.

            During his four years as NRCS Chief, White developed and implemented forward-looking ideas to advance private lands conservation, including more than a dozen landscape conservation initiatives such as the Sage-Grouse and Migratory Bird Habitat Initiatives.

            Jason Weller, Acting NRCS Chief beginning Dec. 3, 2012, has been involved in every major NRCS policy decision since 2009 when he was appointed NRCS Chief of Staff. Dedicated to advancing the cause of voluntary, incentive-based private lands conservation, Weller has focused on coordinating and streamlining NRCS’s programs, structure, and operations to improve conservation assistance to the Nation’s farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners.