At a July 1 hearing of the Conservation Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee, Scott Manley, director of conservation programs in Ducks Unlimited’s Southern Region, spoke on the conservation successes of the 2008 farm bill.

Manley leads the delivery of DU’s conservation programs in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico.

In his testimony, Manley discussed DU’s partnership with the agricultural community and several programs that support restoration and other forms of land conservation, including the Wetlands Reserve Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Manley also mentioned the importance of landscape initiatives. These initiatives provide better bang for the conservation buck, because thanks to cohesive planning in these efforts, environmental benefits can “compound” by achieving a critical mass of conservation in a key area. Landscape initiatives singled out in the testimony included the Agriculture Water Enhancement Program and the Mississippi River Basin Initiative.

Manley commented that local governance of national programs can be beneficial to outcomes, but he also provided suggestions for improvements. He testified that there is an imbalance between funding for conservation assistance to farmers and ranchers and the technical assistance required to help those producers ensure that projects conducted under conservation programs are more successful. He also noted that partnerships are strong indicators of success. The majority of success has been realized when partnerships between landowners, the federal government, state agencies and/or non-profits were involved, he said.

Manley counseled that flexibility can be useful to allow success to flourish in certain parts of the nation where demand for conservation is high. The goal of these programs is conservation success. Manley said he hopes Congress and the delivery agencies will keep that in mind as they devise and deliver farm bill conservation programs.