April 21st, 2008 12:34 EST
Biofuel, CRP Cuts Create 'Perfect Storm'
Award-winning outdoors journalist and author of Texas Waterfowl believes duck hunters are facing a “perfect storm” that could change duck hunting as we know it forever.
“We are at a crossroads with duck populations in America due to a variety of factors,” said writer and Texas Fish & Game magazine executive editor Chester Moore. “If we as the waterfowl hunting community do not make a hard-line stance on these issues now, we will pay the price in the not-so-distant future.”
The top issue at hand is the Farm Bill renewal and continuation of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which is attached to the mammoth piece of legislation. It subsidizes setting aside acreage for wildlife habitat instead of going under the plow.
“People get all nervous over the word ‘subsidy,’ but that is how farming is done in America in 2008,” Moore said. “We can either have subsidies that work to benefit wildlife and farmers or we can subsidize things that will cause irreparable harm.”
Moore’s specific concerns center on the government subsidized push to create “biofuel” to ease alleged human caused “global warming.”
“We have been covering this push for biofuel in Texas Fish & Game magazine, and well over a year ago predicted exactly what is happening right now,” he said. “Land that would have been in CRP is now going to corn crops to the tune of hundreds of thousands of acres because the demand has increased. That has, in turn, resulted in many former CRP plots and other native grasslands going under the plow, which will translate to way fewer ducks in the sky.
“Even worse, it has driven up all food prices from beef to wheat due to corn’s inflated price and the lack of other crops being grown. Even more unconscionable is that politicians are trying to appease the extreme fringe of the environmental movement with this biofuel issue, and as a result, we are literally starving people in the Third World, as many can no longer afford corn-based products that are their staples.”
Moore said now is the time for concerned waterfowlers to tell their elected officials to not only get the farm bill pushed through with strong CRP provisions, but to end the subsidies for biofuel, which are driving the market.
“Many of the so-called ‘sportsman-friendly’ politicians are of conservative persuasion, and have been sucked into all of this due to trying to appease the environmental groups,” Moore said. “The dirty little secret is the people who vote along those lines will never vote for those politicians, so in terms of political capital, it gains nothing and stabs in the back the hunters who do a big part to help put those politicians in office.”
Another issue that will need political help at the federal level is acquiring national wildlife refuge land in the Prairie Pothole region.
“Most of the refuge acquisition has been in the wintering grounds, which certainly serves a purpose, but it is pointless to conserve habitat where the ducks migrate in the winter if there are no ducks to migrate,” Moore said. “There needs to be a fundamental change at the federal level on this issue, which is something I point out in Texas Waterfowl.”
Moore is donating a portion of the proceeds from his book to Ducks Unlimited (DU) to aid in conserving nesting grounds in the Prairie Pothole region, and hopes people will support conservation groups at this critical time. He said the current crisis has strengthened his long-standing relationship with DU: “If there’s a group out there fighting for waterfowl habitat, now is the time to support it. It’s okay if you disagree with certain things about a group, but the bottom line is that they all need our help to help the ducks. I support both DU and Delta Waterfowl, and say hunters can bicker about the small things when we get over this hump. Right now, its time to keep our eyes on the ball and hit a home run for conservation.
“And the truth is, we better do just that because the future of the rich tradition of waterfowling hangs in the balance.”
Texas Fish & Game Magazine