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NPPC Details 2007 Farm Bill Conservation Needs

by 5m Editor
21 April 2007, at 8:34am

WASHINGTON, D.C. - While in need of some reform, existing federal conservation-assistance programs should not be substantially “overhauled,“ the National Pork Producers Council today told a House subcommittee considering conservation issues that may be included in the 2007 Farm Bill.

NPPC called for a fairer share for pork producers of Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds, which are used to help the agriculture industry meet environmental standards. From 2003 through 2005, pork producers received just 3 percent of about $1.26 billion of EQIP funds allocated to livestock producers. With a new federal water-quality rule for livestock operations set to take effect this summer, pork producers need more assistance.

NPPC also wants the EQIP funding level and the program’s limitation on how much a producer can receive in assistance ($450,000) to be maintained. It also supports continuing the program’s size-neutral orientation (large and small producers may receive EQIP funds), 60 percent allocation of funds to the livestock industry and use of funds for wildlife habitat.

“Pork producers take a broad view of what it means to be environmentally responsible farmers and business people,” Doug Wolf, a pork producer from Lancaster, Wis., told the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research. “We have fully embraced the fact that our pork producing operations must protect and conserve the environment and the resources we use and affect.

“We take this responsibility with the utmost seriousness and commitment,” added Wolf, a member of NPPC’s Environment Committee. “It was in this spirit that our producer members made a major commitment to the conservation title of the 2002 Farm Bill.”

In addition to changes in the EQIP program, NPPC said the Conservation Security and Conservation Reserve programs need some reforms. Both programs require farmers who participate in them to set aside lands that have significant environmental and conservation benefits. Among other changes, NPPC wants the CSP to be made simpler for farmers to understand and wants some acres now in the CRP to be allowed to go back into crop production to ease corn supply pressures created by the rise in ethanol production.

5m Editor