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When the US House of Representatives gave final approval and passed the farm bill, more than two dozen conservation groups showed their appreciation.

The bill which was passed on a bipartisan vote of 251-166, has taken three years to get this far and despite the need for Senate approval – it is a step in the right direction for habitat protection and wild population preservation.

“It’s been a long road of compromise to get to this point,” Dale Hall, the chief executive officer of Ducks Unlimited stated, “but this is a big win for conservation and for working farmers and ranchers.”

The Bill encourages the conservation of the nation’s remaining grasslands and wetlands. These help keep the natural waters clean and prevent soil erosion; while providing vital habitat for a wide range of wildlife including Quail and pheasants.

Included in the bill are several items which are there to encourage habitat conservation with a mix of subsidies for keeping land aside and lowering other subsidies if land is converted for crop insurance.

Another key element is the encouragement of private landowners to allow access to their land to the public for recreational uses. The definition of this includes the use of hunting. To help this, there is a mandatory funding of $40 million for the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentives.

There were a number of groups who signed a letter to encourage the House to pass the bill. These organisations included Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

However as some campaigners have stated, with Senate and Presidential approval still required, it could be a while before the bill takes effect.

“[T]he Senate must take the bill up as soon as possible and send a bill to the president’s desk,” said Dave Nomsen, vice president of governmental affairs for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “We cannot afford any more delays or false starts. Rural America, hunters, anglers, landowners – everyone needs this Farm Bill completed.”

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