Sport Fishing Leaders Highlight Farm Bill Programs That Support Healthy Fishing

The Fisheries in the Farm Bill Coalition emphasizes the important role America’s farmland plays in inland and marine waters.

Today, as Congress prepares for the 2023 Farm Bill, the American Game Fishing Association, the Congressional Athletes Foundation, and Trout Unlimited announced the Fishing on the Farm Bill The coalition’s priorities for the bill.

The coalition’s priorities represent key investments in agricultural conservation that will benefit freshwater and saltwater fisheries.

Every five years, Congress must turn its attention to reauthorizing the Farm Bill. Since the bill was last authorized in 2018, Congress must reauthorize the package before it expires in September 2023. America’s farms, ranches and forests are inextricably linked to fishing. Through the Farm Bill Conservation Title, the nation’s largest private investment in land and water conservation, farmers, ranchers, and forest owners have dedicated their land to conservation purposes, including many programs that benefit fisheries conservation and access to fisheries.

“As the largest conservation investment on private land, the Farm Bill is crucial to the health of America’s waterways and its fishing hobby.” ASA Inland Fisheries Policy Manager, ConnorBevan. “ASA and the sport fishing industry encourage Congress to consider the Coalition’s priorities to safeguard aquatic habitats, expand opportunities for recreational fishing, and ensure healthy fisheries.”

The House Agriculture Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee are holding hearings and accepting input on the Farm Bill programs in preparation for reauthorization later this year. The Fisheries in the Farm Bill Coalition calls on Congress to improve fish conservation and growth of the recreational fishing industry by addressing the following in the bill:

  • Ensuring fish and wildlife conservation is a priority equal to soil and water conservation in all USDA conservation programs.
  • Emphasize the value and eligibility of Conservation Title programs for fish and aquatic resources.
  • Ensure that benefits to fish and wildlife through Conservation Title programs are measurable, purposeful and committed during initial planning by State Technical Committees.
  • Simplify application, contracting, and reporting processes across all programs to ensure maximum conservation benefits and incentives are realized for farmers, ranchers, and landowners.

“Unless they are farmers or landowners and have seen firsthand what the Farm Bill can do for water and aquatic habitat conservation, most fishermen are unaware of the value of the legislation to their fisheries,” he said. Chris Horton, CSF Senior Director of Fisheries Policy. “For this upcoming reauthorization, we wanted to make sure anglers had a seat at the table to support the continuation of the Farm Bill’s conservation legacy and what it means for the fish we love to pursue.”

“The Farm Bill is the most effective conservation vehicle for private land in America. Farmers, ranchers and really all landowners are key to caring for and recovering wild and native salmon and trout fisheries,” he said. Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “Farm Bill’s voluntary conservation programs help make the places where we live, love and fish healthier and more sustainable. Athletes across the country need Congress to make passing Farm Bill conservation programs a high priority.”

The Fisheries in the Farm Bill Coalition convened leading conservation and recreational fishing organizations including: American Catfishing Association, American Sportfishing Association, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, The Bass Federation, Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, International Game Fish Association, Major League Fishing, National Professional Anglers Association, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited, and The Walleye Federation.

More information on the Coalition’s priorities can be found here.

The American Sport Fishing Association (ASA) is the trade association for the sport fishing industry committed to representing the interests of the sport fishing and boating industries, as well as the entire sport fishing community. We provide the industry and anglers with a unified voice when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect the sport fishing business or sport fishing itself. ASA invests in companies for the long term to ensure the industry remains strong and prosperous, as well as to safeguard and promote the enduring economic, conservation, and social values ​​of America’s sport fishing. ASA also gives America’s 55 million fishermen a voice in political decisions that affect their ability to fish sustainably in our nation’s waterways through Keep America Fishing, our national fisherman advocacy campaign. America’s fishermen generate more than $50 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating jobs for 825,000 people.