Environmental Quality Incentives Program
Pork producers increasingly are being required to develop and implement nutrient (manure) management plans and to utilize technologies to address various conservation issues. USDA programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), designed to provide financial and technical assistance for addressing water and air quality issues must work for all livestock producers. EQIP currently is not meeting pork producers’ needs. Changes to the program likely would be made through the next Farm Bill.
EQIP is a voluntary conservation program for farmers and ranchers that promote agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. EQIP offers financial and technical assistance for installing or implementing structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land. The enacted 2008 farm bill expands EQIP to cover practices that enhance soil, surface and ground water, air quality and conserve energy; it also covers grazing land, forestland, wetlands and other types of land and natural resources that support wildlife. In evaluating applications, cost-effectiveness and comprehensive treatment of resource issues are given priority. The 2008 Farm Bill lowers the EQIP payment limit to $300,000 (down from $450,000) in any 6-year period per entity, except in cases of special environmental significance including projects involving methane digesters, as determined by USDA. Projects with organic production benefits are capped at $20,000 annually or $80,000 in any six-year period. The enacted bill retains the requirement that 60 percent of funds be made available for cost-sharing to livestock producers, including incentive payments for producers who develop a comprehensive nutrient management plan. The 2008 Farm Bill authorized funding for EQIP at $1.2 billion (FY2008), $1.337 billion (FY2009), $1.45 billion (FY2010), $1.588 billion (FY2011) and $1.75 billion (FY2012).
NPPC supports more EQIP cost-share assistance for all pork producers, including money for technical service providers to set up comprehensive nutrient management plans. It also backs changes in the program to allow EQIP funds for mobile equipment, which is one of pork producers’ greatest needs for managing and applying manure. NPPC also is concerned about the aggregate limit on EQIP funds, which often precludes producers from purchasing high-cost air emissions mitigation technologies.
NPPC was part of a coalition of livestock interests that helped secure in the 2002 Farm Bill $11 billion in EQIP funding over 10 years to help livestock producers of all sizes. But in 2003, 2004 and 2005, pork producers received just 3 percent of the EQIP cost-share assistance provided to all livestock producers – $43 million of the $1.26 billion allocated. That share was less than the amount received by goat, emus, ostrich, elk and bison producers.