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Farm Bureau, Ducks Unlimited applaud base acre decision

The American Farm Bureau Federation and Ducks Unlimited, April 2, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture's decision to reinstate base acres on all federally owned lands is a big win for America's farmers and conservationists. Both organizations appreciate Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's leadership on the issue.

"This announcement restores the farm safety net for producers who farm federal lands," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "The previous rule would have had a two-fold impact of hurting farmers while critically hindering wildlife protection."

According to both organizations, many producers had an agreement with the government whereby they would leave a percentage of their crop in the field for wildlife. This was particularly popular in rice country where fields could become feeding grounds for ducks.

"Rescinding this rule benefits both America's farming families and our wildlife and waterfowl," said Dan Wrinn, director of public policy for Ducks Unlimited. "Thousands of acres of waterfowl habitat will continue to be available to the birds when they reach their wintering grounds next fall."

The elimination of base acres was included in the farm program rule that was issued by the Bush administration at the end of December. The ruling was not based on any statutory requirement in the 2008 farm bill, but was an administrative change. The rule was effective immediately, and left many producers to face their lenders with no safety net coverage for the crop production on this land.

The provision impacted 34 states and represented more than $5.5 million per year in lost direct payments, as well as an unknown amount of counter-cyclical payments.

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