WASHINGTON – Following a hearing today by the Senate Agriculture Committee to advance the nomination of former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue as Agriculture secretary, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President and CEO Land Tawney emphasized the USDA’s role in facilitating public access to privately owned lands and managing America’s national forests and grasslands:
“Only a sportsman can fully grasp the fundamental importance of the Agriculture Department to our nation’s proud traditions of conservation, public access and hunting and fishing,” said Tawney, “and in this instance we are fortunate to have a nominee for Agriculture secretary who is one of us – a hunter and outdoorsman who understands the weight of the responsibilities he will be asked to shoulder.
“We welcome the opportunity to work with Mr. Perdue as secretary of Agriculture,” he stated. “We will count on his leadership in working with hunters, anglers, landowners and other stakeholders to develop collaborative solutions to today’s complex conservation challenges and enhance public access programs, all while ensuring that the U.S. Forest Service is able to fulfill its mission and uphold a cherished American legacy in our public lands.”
The Agriculture Department is responsible for managing 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands. These public lands encompass a wealth of hunting and fishing opportunities, support robust game populations and sustain coldwater fisheries. USDA also administers critical funding mechanisms like the Farm Bill, which incentivizes private lands conservation through programs like the Conservation Reserve Program and public access through Open Fields. Another fundamental part of USDA, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, helps farmers and ranchers implement conservation strategies that benefit fish and wildlife on both private and public landscapes.