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17

Historic Partnership Formed at Pheasant Fest in Omaha; PF Becomes the First Wildlife Conservation Organization to Officially Partner with the Farm Service Agency

OMAHA, Neb.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 15, 2005--Pheasants Forever (PF) announced a formal partnership with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) this afternoon at Pheasant Fest. By signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), PF and FSA established a broad working relationship to deliver Federal Farm Bill conservation programs that benefit farmers; as well as soil, water, and wildlife. This MOU is the first of its kind between FSA and any national wildlife conservation organization.


"This MOU will formalize FSA and Pheasants Forever's long history of partnering to benefit America's wildlife," said FSA Administrator James R. Little, the keynote speaker of PF's Saturday evening banquet. "Support from Pheasants Forever and other wildlife organizations has strengthened FSA's ability to implement nearly 35 million CRP acres on private lands during the program's 20-year history."

Administrator Little joined PF President and CEO Howard Vincent in officially signing the MOU at the Cabela's seminar stage on the Pheasant Fest show floor. "This MOU provides outstanding direction from the highest levels of Washington D.C.," explained Vincent. "It ensures the Farm Service Agency and Pheasants Forever will work cooperatively at all levels in the best interests of promoting the conservation of wildlife habitat. We look forward to working with the FSA on the 22 million acres set to expire in 2007 and '08 as part of reaching a fully-enrolled CRP. Pheasants Forever is very excited about this partnership."

In August 2004, President Bush announced that the USDA will offer early re-enrollment and contract extensions in order to improve the environmental benefits of the existing CRP acreage. The President directed the Secretary of Agriculture to initiate a plan for maintaining and expanding the benefits of CRP in the future, working closely with farmers, sportsmen, wildlife groups, conservation leaders, and communities. This MOU serves as an important step in following through on the President's direction to USDA.

FSA is the USDA agency responsible for delivering CRP on private lands. CRP has been PF's favorite program since its creation in 1985. The program offers annual payments for 10-15 year contracts to participants who establish grass, shrub, and/or tree cover on environmentally sensitive lands. CRP lands have been shown to boost pheasant populations, improve water quality, protect environmentally sensitive soils from erosion, and provide critical wildlife habitat. The program also helps stabilize farmers' incomes through the annual payments.

PF's National Pheasant Fest runs through Sunday, January 16th at the Qwest Center in downtown Omaha, Nebraska. The Fest is the country's largest event for upland hunters, sport dog owners, and wildlife habitat conservationists. Pheasant Fest 2005 is PF's second such event. The first Pheasant Fest was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2003. That first Fest attracted thousands of members, conservation leaders, landowners, and pheasant hunters from around the country. This year's Omaha event has proven to double the size of the first Fest with twice the exhibitor booths, bigger seminars, and more special events. Pheasant Fest is open to the public. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for kids under 12. For more information about PF and Pheasant Fest 2005, go to www.pheasantsforever.org.

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