of the most effective voluntary conservation programs is
changing for the worst under the proposed 2002 Farm Bill.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) helps local
people decide where funding is most needed to address local
water quality concerns and provide incentives to farmers to
address those concerns. The program’s effectiveness is due
in part to its long-term, conservation plan-driven approach
that focuses funding on priority watersheds.
agribusiness groups, like Farm Bureau and Illinois Beef
Association, have sought to change the program.
industry groups want to turn an effective conservation
program into a enormous taxpayer giveaway for large
corporate-style farms," said Marc Miller, Watershed
Organizer for Prairie Rivers Network, Illinois’ statewide
river conservation group.
industry groups want EQIP to give highest priority to
large-scale confined animal feeding operations. They also
want to increase the annual payment limit five times to
$50,000 and program total limit to $200,000 to accommodate
the factory farms. Other changes include eliminating the
priority areas, based on water quality problems, and include
measures that eliminate conservation planning.
"Farm Bureau’s so-called support of conservation
actually subsidizes the get-big-or-get-out attitude that has
forced many conservation-minded farmers out of
agriculture," stated Miller.
pointed out that if EQIP is not restored in the Senate
version of the Farm Bill, farmers will lose a voluntary tool
to meet agriculture’s responsibility in watershed
restoration plans required by the Clean Water Act. Farm
Bureau and other industry groups have opposed
agriculture’s inclusion in these watershed restoration
proposed by Senator Wellstone (D-WI) would restrict new or
expanding confined animal feedlot operations from receiving
cost-share funds for structures, and limit the size of the
recipient by the number of animals raised on the farm.
Agricultural industry groups are opposing this "Wellstone"
February 05, 2002