Release No. 0136.11
Kent Politsch (202) 720-7807
Farm Service Agency Renews Cooperative Agreement with National Wild Turkey Federation
WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2011—The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the NWTF renewed their collaborative commitment to enhance habitat for wild turkey and other wildlife with the signing of a cooperative agreement today. Signing the agreement were Bruce Nelson, FSA administrator, and George Thornton, chief executive officer of the NWTF.
“FSA and NWTF have mutual interests in enhancing wildlife habitat that will benefit wild turkey and many other species and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities including hunting.” said Nelson. “This announcement would not be possible without our conservation partners, as well as our relationship with private landowners who play a critical role in restoring wetlands and protecting wildlife in this unique habitat.”
FSA administers a number of conservation programs that help to conserve soil and reduce erosion, protect water and air quality, restore important wetland, forest and grass ecosystems, and enhance wildlife habitats, including those needed by wild turkey and other wildlife.
“We’re proud of all we’ve accomplished with FSA,” Thornton said. “Renewing our collaborative agreementreflects the strength and commitment of both organizations to improving wildlife habitat, and provides a solid foundation to expand our successful partnership.”
Wild turkeys are found throughout the lower 48 states and parts of Canada and Mexico. It is estimated that there are seven million wild turkeys in the United States. Wild turkey hunting is part of the social framework of many rural families and is enjoyed by more than three million hunters annually.
Through dynamic partnerships, the NWTF and its members helped restore wild turkey populations throughout North America, spending more than $372 million to conserve 17 million acres of habitat. Wild turkeys and hundreds of other species of upland wildlife, including quail, deer, grouse, pheasant and songbirds, benefit from this improved habitat.
FSA-administered programs, such as those funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), have proven effective in enhancing wild turkey habitat and providing opportunities for recreational access.
FSA-administered conservation programs help to improve watershed health, the vitality of agricultural lands and aesthetics, and the economies of local communities. Well-managed private lands also support healthy ecosystems that provide clean water, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and other environmental services that benefit the public.
The Obama Administration under Agriculture Secretary Vilsack’s leadership has worked tirelessly to strengthen rural America, implement the Farm Bill, maintain a strong farm safety net, and create opportunities for America’s farmers, ranchers and producers. U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its best years in decades thanks to the productivity, resiliency and resourcefulness of our producers. Today, net farm income is at record levels while total farm debt has declined nearly 2 percent. Overall, American agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in the United States and provides American consumers with 86 percent of the food we consume, while maintaining affordability and choice. The Obama Administration has also aggressively worked to expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade for American producers, helping to push agricultural exports to a projected record $137.5 billion in 2011. Strong agricultural exports contribute to a positive U.S. trade balance, create jobs, and boost economic growth.
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