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Farm and conservation groups agree on who will employ biologists to help with voluntary conservation

North Dakota agriculture and conservation groups have reached an agreement concerning who will employ farm bill biologists.

Those biologists will work with farmers on voluntary conservation programs.

Farm groups raised some concerns – because the Natural Resources Conservation Service had not only employed biologists from Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever to handle those programs – they were housed at NRCS offices. Now, the agreement means the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts will house the farm bill biologists.

"Agriculture and wildlife need to coexist," said Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND). He said farm groups were concerned about bias -- or perceived bias -- in the initial agreement.

"The appearance of impropriety should be erased, and the rebuilding of trust relationships is well under way," said Cramer at a Bismarck news conference. "That's the main goal of this whole arrangement."

State Game and Fish director Terry Steiunwand has also signed off on the new agreement.

"I've never felt wildlife and agriculture should be at odds," said Steinwand. "I think this is a great opportunity to have that tremendous dialog that we've wanted for a long time, and should have had for a long time. Not necessarily to resolve our differences, but understand each other."

Cramer says this agreement is the first of its kind in the US.

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