EQIP Program Comes Under Fire

New study claims the USDA payments did more to aid larger operations than the smaller farms as intended.

A study of five years of USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program payments may be benefiting "industrial" livestock operations rather than helping small farmers, according to an Associated Press Report. The survey, conducted by the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment notes that large hog operations accounted for 37% of all EQIP payments.

The group notes that large hog operations account for only 11% of the swine industry. In addition, larger dairies received 54% of EQIP dairy contracts, while those businesses represent only 3.9% of all dairy operations. The report apparently claims the same disparities were found in Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri.

The EQIP program survives in the 2008 Farm Bill, but there's a proposal to reduce the cap on maximum payments to $300,000. USDA can, however, waive that payment limit for projects that it would deem of "special environmental significance."

However, groups involved in the five-year analysis say that the Farm Bill doesn't do enough and are calling for a drop in the payment cap to $150,000, and a requirement that USDA base contract priority on cost efficiency, not the amount of pollution generated. They're also asking for a restoration of a provision that would stop use of EQIP funds for waste storage projects.

TAGS: Farm Policy
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