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Hearing notes how Farm Bill programs promote active recovery

Washington, DC â?? Idaho Senator Mike Crapo used a Senate subcommittee hearing today to spotlight how conservation programs under the Farm Bill produce results for a variety of plant and animal species, and called active species recovery the â??next phaseâ?? for the Endangered Species Act. In his role as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Forestry, Conservation, and Rural Revitalization, Crapo said that approach is useful in identifying the kinds of recovery actions that may work best for endangered and threatened species. Crapo is working with a coalition of House and Senate members on legislation to improve and update the Endangered Species Act (ESA) this year.â??We spend significant money on Farm Bill programs and we obtain notable results,â?? Crapo said in his opening statement. â??Because we need both protection of species and promotion of their recovery, we are today considering how the Farm Bill and the ESA have worked well together and how they can work better together in the future.â?? Crapo said a cooperative effort with landowners is the key difference in the two approaches. â??The success of these voluntary, contractual programs in addressing environmental concerns is also testimony to both farmers and ranchers. Those who make their living off the land have long been good stewards of these resources,â?? he added.Crapo noted that while Farm Bill conservation programs have yielded many results in improving habitat which aids species recovery, the principal focus of the ESA has been in stopping harmful activities. A number of witnesses, including Kent Foster of the Idaho Association of Soil Conservation Districts, agreed that by working together to promote wildlife conservation better results are achieved than by answering to regulations alone. Tim Searchinger of Environmental Defense noted he has seen great success with voluntary, contractual efforts involving landowners. Environmental Defense joined with Crapo in May of last year to launch the "Back from the Brink" program for recovering species in partnership with landowners. Steve Manning of the Texas Farm Bureau spoke of the Leon River Restoration Project, which benefited the golden-cheeked warbler. Manning said landowner involvement reversed a situation once so contentious that federal marshals had to intervene during the recovery efforts. # # #