PRESS RELEASE: Gaylord Nelson’s Plan To Use Small “Wildlife Service Payments” | 1965

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Summary: WASHINGTON, D. C. — The farm bill sent to the White House today includes Senator Gaylord Nelson’s plan to use small “wildlife service payments” to open several million acres of idle farmland for hunting and other recreation.

Written by: Roger Blobaum, staffer to Senator Gaylord Nelson

WASHINGTON, D. C. — The farm bill sent to the White House today includes Senator Gaylord Nelson’s plan to use small “wildlife service payments” to open several million acres of idle farmland for hunting and other recreation.

The new program, which also provides for a wildlife advisory board to the Secretary of Agriculture, was adopted in the Senate-House Conference that worked out the compromise bill.    It now goes to President Johnson for signature.

The farm bill also includes a dairy provision similar to Senator Nelson’s proposal to permit the government to buy farm products at market prices to meet long-term commitments for over­seas use of surplus American farm commodities.

The new wildlife program had wide national support, including strong endorsements by such groups as the National Farmers Union, National Wildlife Federation, National Grange, and International Association of Game, Fish and Conservation Commissioners.

“Including this program in the farm bill will give farmers added income and also will give state fish and game agencies an opportunity to help carry out wildlife and recreation aspects of our farm program* Senator Nelson commented.  “It will stop the steady disappearance of farm wildlife in many areas.

“It is a creative opportunity to expand both our wildlife habitat and our recreation space.”

The Nelson wildlife program provides incentive payments to
farmers and ranchers who agree to permit public access and also to carry out wildlife management practices on land retired under the new Cropland Adjustment Program. It is estimated that it will open as much as 10 million acres of this idled land for public recreation.

The Cropland Adjustment Program, much like the Soil Bank started in the 1950’s, is designed to retire up to 40 million acres of surplus cropland for periods of 5 to 10 years.   Farmers agreeing to retire land will receive a rental payment and a share of the costs of any conservation practices.

Nelson’s program would provide a small additional “wildlife incentive payment” for farmers who managed this idled land for wildlife and opened it to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking, and other types of recreation.

The plan, which Nelson proposed as an amendment to the farm bill on July 6, was co-sponsored by Senators Mondale of Minnesota, McGovern of South Dakota, Burdick of North Dakota, Hart of Michigan, and Williams of New Jersey.

The new program lends an added dimension to national farm policy, giving state fish and game agencies the role of wildlife manage­ment advisers on farm and ranch land retired from production.   The crux of the administrative arrangement involved, as worked out by Nelson with Department of Agriculture and wildlife representatives, is this language:

“If a farmer and the state game and fish commission representative can reach an agreement as to the wildlife potential of the land concerned, the wildlife conservation measures that should be installed, and the wildlife management practices that should be followed, these would be incorporated into a contract between the County Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service and the farmer, and would form the basis on which an additional payment would be offered to the farmer.”

Nelson told the Senate that the program would help make several million acres of properly-managed farm and ranch land available for public use.

The demand for recreational opportunity, based on availability of all kinds of outdoor resources, is creating so much pressure that most of this increasing demand soon will have to be met on private land,” Nelson said,

“This is because of resistance to public land acquisition in many areas and lack of sufficient public money to buy and manage the recreation space that is needed.”

Nelson said the new dairy purchase provision is significant both in terms of increased dairy farm income and of greater expansion of agricultural markets overseas.

Nelson has been critical of present policy, which results in wide fluctuations and temporary interruptions in the flow of supplies of farm commodities.   Supplies are limited to availability of surplus stocks.

“Fluctuating supplies of surplus nonfat dry milk, for example, have made it difficult to assure a reasonable uniform and continuous flow to donation outlets, both in this country and overseas,” Nelson said.

“And a few months ago butter surplus stocks dipped so low that school lunch allocations were sharply cut and oleomargarine was substituted in domestic programs for welfare and charitable institutions.”

Both of these situations, he said, could have been avoided if the government had authorization to purchase dairy products at market prices without regard to whether they were in surplus.

The new provision authorizes purchase of dairy products at market prices to meet the needs of foreign and domestic food programs, The change will permit orderly and reliable planning of these programs; resulting in more effective administration.