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Meet a Farm Bill biologist

Jason Beckler

Just what does a Farm Bill biologist do?

Jason Beckler has the answer.

"The primary purpose is to work with landowner, help them understand all the programs and options that they have," he said.

Beckler, who is Pheasant Forever's new Farm Bill biologist in Renville County, deals mostly with Conservation Reserve Program land and helping farmers and landowers if they want to turn their holdings into wildlife habitat.

The Farm Bill, or the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, was passed by Congress to provide a policy tool on agricultural subsidies, food safety, conservation and other ag-related issues.

Beckler is no stranger to conservation. He grew up in Gettysburg, S.D., which is prime pheasant hunting country.

"I'm a big hunter, so pheasants have been a big part of my life," he said.

He graduated from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion with a biology degree and has worked for the state of Iowa and as an assistant private lands conservationist.

"It's my job to increase the habitat lands and develop a solid ecosystem," he said.

Now, he'll work with Renville County farmers and other conservation and government agencies to make that goal a reality.

"Finding landowners, doing one-on-one contacts and letting them know what their options are," Beckler said of his day-to-day schedule. "There are a lot of programs out there for landowners.

"The rest of the time, I'm out there looking at current CRP acres, seeing if they need a controlled burn, or something else of that nature."

Pheasants Forever created the Farm Bill biologist program in 2003. According to a press release, there are "35 Farm Bill biologists working in seven states -- Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin."

The program's coordinator praised Beckler in the same release. "Beckler possesses knowledge of federal, state, and local programs that will assist landowners in finding the right program and funding to meet their person habitat and land use goals."

Beckler will work closely with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Renville County Pheasants Forever chapter and the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources.

"We all have one common goal: putting good habitat on the ground," he said.

Landowners who want to more information on CRP or other Farm Bill programs can contact Beckler at 320-523-1553 ext. 3.

"A lot of landowners think they have land that doesn't qualify for government programs," he said. "If they have land, just call. Chances are, we can get it qualified for something."