3:42 PM EST

Rick Crawford, R-AR 1st

Mr. CRAWFORD. Mr. Chair, I yield myself such time as I consume.

My amendment will provide a limited exemption related to the taking of migratory game birds over farm fields. In short, it clarifies a recent interpretation by the Fish and Wildlife Service about what constitutes a ``baited field.''

In 2012, the agency warned rice growers that some of their fields that had been rolled--as farmer often do after the harvest to prepare the field to be planted the next spring--could be off limits to waterfowl hunting. That summer's drought led to an early rice harvest in several parts of the country, and heavy rainfall then caused a rare secondary ``ratoon'' crop to sprout. The Fish and Wildlife Service cautioned that should rice heads emerge in those fields, their guidelines stated that any

field work, such as rolling, would make it a baited field where waterfowl hunting would be unlawful.

Waterfowl hunting is a vital industry in my State. Hunters come from the world over to Arkansas' First District, and farmers, small businesses, and the rural communities that dot the delta all rely on the millions of dollars hunters bring with them every year.

My amendment is a commonsense solution that simply states that a field may not be considered baited as the result of normal agricultural practices, as determined by the State Office of the Cooperative Extension Service at the request of the Secretary of the Interior, with concurrence from that State's Fish and Wildlife Service.

I ask for your support for this important amendment that will protect farmers from being punished for simply carrying out long-recognized and responsible agricultural practices.

With that, I yield to the chairman.

3:43 PM EST

Doc Hastings, R-WA 4th

Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I plan to support his amendment.

This is something that it seems like we wrestle with all the time here on the Federal level. There is uniqueness when you are on the ground, but yet we write rules and regulations on the one size fits all. This is clearly a unique situation, and I think the gentleman's amendment clarifies that very well.

I support the amendment.

3:44 PM EST

Peter A. DeFazio, D-OR 4th

Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Chair, we often have conflicts in Oregon. We had a very substantial conflict relating to geese in terms of farmers' fields. The resolution was that the birds protected by the Migratory Bird Act would continue to be protected, but farmers would be able to hunt with the State license--and I don't know about the gentleman's State whether or not a State license would be required--the birds that were not migratory that were becoming pests and were resident in order to protect

their crops.

[Time: 15:45]

This substantially resolved the problem.

I don't know if a similar fix would work here, but an amendment that gives an open license on the Migratory Bird Act, which has international implications, the migratory bird treaty, seems to me to be an extreme measure in this case. Therefore, we would oppose the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

3:44 PM EST

Peter A. DeFazio, D-OR 4th

Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Chair, we often have conflicts in Oregon. We had a very substantial conflict relating to geese in terms of farmers' fields. The resolution was that the birds protected by the Migratory Bird Act would continue to be protected, but farmers would be able to hunt with the State license--and I don't know about the gentleman's State whether or not a State license would be required--the birds that were not migratory that were becoming pests and were resident in order to protect

their crops.

[Time: 15:45]

This substantially resolved the problem.

I don't know if a similar fix would work here, but an amendment that gives an open license on the Migratory Bird Act, which has international implications, the migratory bird treaty, seems to me to be an extreme measure in this case. Therefore, we would oppose the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.