The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) renewed their collaborative commitment to enhance habitat for white-tailed deer and other wildlife with the signing of a cooperative agreement today during QDMA’s 11th Annual National Convention. The agreement was signed by Bruce Nelson, FSA Administrator, and Brian Murphy, QDMA Chief Executive Officer.
“FSA and QDMA share mutual conservation interests in ensuring the future of white-tailed deer, wildlife habitat and our hunting heritage,” Nelson said. “White-tailed deer are an iconic species of America’s great outdoors and protecting this habitat will help preserve the species for future generations.”
FSA-administered programs, such as those funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), are designed to conserve soil, protect water quality and enhance wildlife habitat.
The VPA-HIP provides incentives to encourage farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to open their land for public access to hunting, fishing and other wildlife-dependent recreational activities. Conservation covers established through both CRP and VPA-HIP promote plant diversity, an important aspect of deer habitat. Quality deer habitat includes a mixture of trees, shrubs, grasses, forbs and other plants such as fungi and sedges.
Today’s announcement is part of a broader USDA effort to support conservation and restoration of important habitats for wildlife. Also today, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced that more than 150 Northern Plains farmers and ranchers have applied for a new initiative designed to enhance migratory bird habitat, improve water quality and the health of grasslands in the Prairie Pothole Region of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. Additionally, FSA announced that it has approved the reallocation of 153,972 acres available through the Conservation Reserve Program initiative entitled State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement, to conserve and restore critical habitat for lesser prairie chickens, sage and sharp-tailed grouse, and other grassland, sage or prairie-dependent species in eight states.
White-tailed deer are found throughout the lower 48 states and parts of Canada and Mexico. It is estimated that there are 30 million white-tailed deer in the U.S. Deer hunting is part of the social framework of many rural families and is enjoyed by millions of Americans annually. Sportsmen expenditures are a significant contributor to the economy of many rural communities.
Source: USDA FSA