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Report: Farm Bill Programs Helping Indiana's Birds

One of the grassland birds that's seen a rebound in Indiana and the Midwest is the bobolink. (ohio.gov)
One of the grassland birds that's seen a rebound in Indiana and the Midwest is the bobolink. (ohio.gov)
August 24, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – The 2018 Farm Bill soon will be debated in Congress, and advocates say not only is it crucial for agriculture, it's also key for birds in this nation.

The State of the Birds 2017 report from the North American Bird Conservation Initiative says conservation programs have been helping farmers and ranchers keep their land productive, and at the same time has led to some species rebounding.

Steve Holmer, vice president for policy for the American Bird Conservancy says that's been very evident in the Midwest.

"The bobolink and the bobwhite quail are some of the birds that have been benefiting from Farm Bill conservation programs, and these are species that have seen long-term declines," he explains.

According to the report, grassland birds suffered a nearly 50-percent drop in the population before easements were introduced back in 2003.

Two-thirds of the land in the lower 48 states is privately owned, and Holmer says even with conservation programs in place, habitat for birds is constantly under threat.

"Because of the renewable fuel standard we continue to see native prairie get plowed under to produce corn and that's because farmers are responding to the prices and the demand and the market," he says.

The report recommends more funding for voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs for farmers and ranchers, and also suggests working with states so they can prioritize certain wildlife species.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN