Crawford Introduces Bill to Protect Hunters, Farmers
Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-01) introduced H.R. 1099, which amends the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in order to protect producers and sportsmen from unfair penalties that result from hunting over ratoon rice fields. The bill, known as the Hunter and Farmer Protection Act, would allow each state’s cooperative extension service to weigh in on the difference between what constitutes baiting and usual agricultural practices. Senator Tom Cotton (AR) has introduced the same legislation in the Senate.
“Rice farmers in my District routinely roll their fields,” said Crawford. “However, under current federal rules, if a ratoon crop emerges after initial harvest, farmers can’t manipulate those fields and still hunt on them. As the law now stands, farmers must choose between tending to their fields or hunting during duck season. I don’t believe our hunters and farmers should be punished by federal agencies for taking care of the land in the way they know best.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has stated that ratoon crops which have been rolled qualify as baited fields, making them out-of-bounds for hunters, despite the fact that local cooperative extension offices advised farmers to roll their fields to help return nutrients to the soil. Inadvertent baiting of a field can produce a fine of up to $15,000 or prohibit hunting on the land.