Now that we've paid our taxes for another year, it would be great to see some benefit from it.
Specifically, Congress needs to pass a new farm bill with a combined 42 million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program. Let's add a few million acres (and funding) to the Grasslands Reserve Program and a Sodsaver amendment to keep the Prairie Pothole Region of North and South Dakota from becoming a giant cornfield.
It has to happen now — or wildlife habitat destruction on U.S. farms will pretty much continue uninhibited.
The federal farm bill provides the single largest conservation protection on private lands in the U.S.
The 2002 farm bill should have ended on September 30, 2007, and the new farm bill should have begun on October 1. In a perfect world, that's how it should have worked.
But we know Congress isn't perfect. Still, both the House and Senate did pass their own versions of a new farm bill last year. Unfortunately, they haven't bothered to work out a final reconciled version to send to the president for his signature.
The president is itching to "GIT-R-DONE."
Congress has extended the old farm bill twice to keep some programs going until the new farm bill is finished. But the conservation programs mentioned above have no money to keep going on indefinitely; so practice any new conservation for wildlife on America's farmland effectively ended last September 30.
You can bet that destruction of wildlife habitat on farms has gone on pretty much unabated since then.
President Bush said after the last extension that Congress needs to have the new farm bill ready for his signature by April 18. If not, they might as well extend the old one for another year.
But should that be the case, wildlife habitat destruction on farms will likely continue uninterrupted.
Oh, and the House finally got around to deciding whom would be on its conference committee to work with the Senate on that final version that the president wanted on April 18. (This was accomplished April 14.)
Don't hold your breath for a final version of the new farm bill in the next four days. It won't happen.
In the meantime, destruction of wildlife habitat on farms will go on pretty much continue on its merry way for the foreseeable future.
Your tax dollars not at work.