The fiscal year 2012 Agricultural Appropriations Bill is expected to come to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on June 14-16. With an expected open rule, ASI believes it is best to prepare a strong defense against any amendment offered from the floor to reduce/eliminate funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Wildlife Service's (WS) programs.
Industry leaders are being asked to assist in this effort by contacting their congressional delegation and urging them to oppose any and all amendments that would limit/eliminate funding for WS.
The mission of WS is to provide federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist. The agency is authorized by Congress to manage a program to reduce human/wildlife conflicts throughout the United States, including damage from predators. WS applies the Integrated Wildlife Damage Management approach to address challenges and problems associated with wildlife and implements programs through professional partnerships and collaboration among federal and state agencies, institutions, agricultural and livestock producer associations and the public.
Wildlife brings about over $12.8 billion in damage a year to natural resources, public infrastructures, private property and agriculture. WS works to prevent, minimize or manage this damage and to protect human health and safety from conflicts with wildlife. Wildlife damage to U.S. livestock, aquaculture, small grains, fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products has been estimated at almost a billion dollars annually. Annually, wildlife predators cause over $126 million in death loss to livestock; field crop losses due to wildlife total $619 million; losses to vegetables, fruits and nuts totaled $146 million; and 70 percent of catfish farmers incur wildlife-related damage resulting in losses of $10 million to $13 million from double-crested cormorants in Mississippi alone. Consequently, WS is an essential program in agriculture production in the United States.
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) has talking points, briefs and background information posted to its website at www.sheepusa.org. Click on the growling coyote.
ASI's effort is joined by dozens of livestock, sportsmen, local government and industry-affiliated organizations. ASI is encouraging livestock producers to contact their U.S. House of Representatives offices, stress the importance of the WS programs and ask the representative to oppose any and all amendments that would limit/eliminate funding for the programs.