Senate passes major farm bill roll back in EQIP program

WASHINGTON - A provision to decrease the payment limit for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) from $450,000 over ten years to $300,000, ties the hand of pork producers attempting to implement costly new technologies to manage nutrients on their farms, said National Pork Producers Council President Jon Caspers.
calendar icon 10 November 2003
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“NPPC fought for the higher payment limit in the 2002 Farm Bill in order to ensure that critical funds would be available for producers to comply with federal, state and local environmental regulations,“ said Caspers, a pork producer from Swaledale, Iowa. “Congress’ decision to change the EQIP rules only a year and a half after the bill was passed is a step in the wrong direction. If the Senate is truly concerned about the environment, they are taking away the one tool that will ultimately assist producers in improving their environmental performances.“

The provision to decrease the payment limitation for EQIP was authored by Sen. Charles Grasssley (R-Iowa) and included as part of S. 1427, the FY’ 2004 Agriculture Appropriations bill.

“We’re very disappointed that the Senate opened the 2002 Farm Bill and literally no one opposed it,“ Caspers said. “It makes you wonder if farm commodity program payments are next on the chopping block. With new regulations being implemented frequently at the state and federal level, we are concerned that the continued existence of some pork producers will be threatened. Timely access to EQIP and other U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) environmental programs is of great assistance in helping producers who are continually challenged on the regulatory front.“

Congress will now take both versions of the bill to a conference committee to reconcile differences before final passage. NPPC will work to strip this provision out of the final bill during Conference negotiations.

Source: National Pork Producers Council - 7th November 2003

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