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Paid political letter: Good farm policy not coming from the president

For those of us who love to follow our dogs in pursuit of the gaudy ringneck pheasant, today’s opener is a day we’ve looked forward to for nine months. Almost 100,000 fellow Minnesotans will be joining us as we spread out across southwest Minnesota. Prospects this year are favorable, after a pretty dismal year last year.

Pheasants require habitat — especially tall grassy cover necessary for nesting. This is often what is found on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands — farmland that has been enrolled in a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program. CRP was launched in 1985 to help reduce crop surpluses and provide more income certainty to farmers. Minnesota once had almost 2 million acres of CRP, and our pheasant population flourished.

Today? Not so much. Minnesota lost 128,000 acres —  almost 200 square miles — since President Trump took office and is now less than half the acres we once had. This, even though demand for enrollment into CRP has been strong — a demand that USDA failed to meet. That means less pheasant habitat, but also less habitat for pollinators, more sediment running into streams and more surplus corn and soybeans. Surplus crops means farmers get lower prices. With Trump’s trade wars, the federal government (that’s you and me) has had to write checks for some $40 billion to buffer the income loss farmers realized. All that, and no new habitat and less certainty for farmers.

We think this administration has lost touch with hunters, with farmers and with a sound farm policy that supports crop prices but also puts good habitat on the ground. It is time for a change. We are voting for Joe Biden for president. Hunters — like farmers — need a good farm policy, and we are not getting it from this president.

Tom Landwehr;

hunter, conservationist, former DNR commissioner; Shoreview

Carrol Henderson;

hunter, conservationist, former DNR Nongame Wildlife Program leader; Blaine

Dr. Bill Faber;

hunter, conservationist, college wildlife instructor; Cushing