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E-M:/ Forward on EQIP/Farmbill



Think the farm bill doesn't matter in Michigan?  Think again.  In MI just like every other state (as required by the new farm bill) contracts for whole farm conservation are being set aside so that $$ can go to CAFO manure management.  Taxpayer support for dealing with factory farm externalities = more and bigger factory farms everywhere.  

See the forwarded e-mail from the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture.  Support the Grassley Amendment (it isn't great, but it's better than what we had!)



NATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
P.O. Box 396, Pine Bush, NY  12566
(845) 744-8448, Fax: (845) 744-8477
Email: Campaign@sustainableagriculture.net
www.SustainableAgriculture.net

BREAKING NEWS -
THE OPPOSITION IS MOBILIZED - WE NEED YOUR CALLS NOW!
Monday July 28, 2003
Please Call Your Two Senators to Support the
Grassley EQIP Payment Limitations Amendment

Act Immediately to Support Family Farms and the Environment!

7.25.03 Update:
We just received breaking information from the Sustainable Agriculture
Coalition (SAC) that there is now an excellent chance that agriculture
appropriations will be on the floor of the Senate sometime Wednesday,
Thursday or Friday this week. (Last week it looked like they wouldn't
get to it until September). The opposition is now aware of the amendment and
fully engaged.

PLEASE MAKE YOUR CALLS TODAY TO SUPPORT
THE GRASSLY EQIP PAYMENT LIMITATIONS AMENDMENT (see below)
AND CIRCULATE THIS ALERT AS WIDELY AS YOU CAN.

The Issue in Brief: The full Senate could take up the agricultural
appropriations bill for 2004 this week.  Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
will introduce an amendment to scale back the per farm payment
limitation for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) from $450,000 to
$300,000, and apply the limit to all the farming sites that are part of
a single operation, regardless of the number of partners investing in the
operation.

The Grassley amendment will put some brakes on the use of EQIP to
subsidize expansion of industrial livestock confinement facilities,
while allowing for a wider, fairer distribution of EQIP funds to a larger
number of farmers.  The amendment will redirect funding to help family farms
and improve the environmental outcomes of the EQIP program.

This amendment is a great opportunity to start correcting
one of the biggest mistakes of the 2002 farm bill.

> > Thank you for making these calls today!  Let's take back our program!
> > Act Now: The Senate could start debate on the agriculture
> > appropriations bill at any moment.

> > PLEASE CALL BOTH OF YOUR SENATORS(STABENOW & LEVIN) OFFICES RIGHT NOW.
> >
> > DON'T HESITATE!  TIME IS VERY SHORT!

> > 1. You can reach your Senators via the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121
> > and asking for their office by name.

2. Tell them you are a constituent and urge them to support the Grassley
EQIP Amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill.
3. Leave that message on voice mail or with the receptionist who answers
the phone and/or ask to speak with the staff person who covers
agriculture and give them the same message.

4. Reinforce your phone call by sending an email directly to each of
your > > Senators.  You can find their email address at http://www.senate.gov.
Please copy the National Campaign at action@sustainableagriculture.net.

5. Please circulate this alert or your own variation as far and wide as
possible to as many hot lists as possible.  

> >
> > Background: The EQIP program was enacted as part of the 1996 farm bill
> > as a major, positive reform of previous conservation cost-share programs.
> > Payments were limited to $10,000 a year, with a cap of not more than
> > $50,000 over five years.  Animal waste storage structures for
> > large-scale confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) were ineligible for EQIP
> > funding.  The program worked reasonably well in support of farm
> > conservation efforts, with a special emphasis on cost-effective land
> > management practices.
> >
> > In the 2002 farm bill, however, Congress reversed course in response to
> > a massive lobbying campaign by corporate livestock interests and their
> > allies.  Large-scale confinement operations were made eligible for EQIP
> > funding, the yearly payment limit was eliminated, and the overall
> > payment limitation mushroomed nine-fold to $450,000 over the six-year span of
> > the farm bill.  Proponents of these changes spoke openly about converting
> > EQIP from a conservation program to a commodity program for livestock groups.
> >
> > Despite a five-fold increase in annual overall funding for EQIP provided
> > in the 2002 farm bill, the total number of farms and ranches benefiting
> > from EQIP has not increased because the payments per farm have become so
> > much larger.  The primary beneficiaries of these changes have been large
> > livestock confinement operations and other large farms and ranches
> > investing in capital-intensive structures and equipment with public
> > cost-share dollars.  These taxpayer expenditures probably do far more to
> > increase production (and thus lower the prices farmers receive for their
> > products) than to achieve any benefits for natural resources and the
> > environment.
> >
> > The Grassley amendment, while not going as far as we would like, would
> > be  a very big step in the right direction of restoring some sanity to the
> > once-proud program.  The amendment would allow more farmers to
> > participate  in EQIP by reducing the high-end payments to the largest operations.
> > The  amendment would also rectify a further problem created by USDA in the
> > rulemaking process, namely allowing the already extreme $450,000 payment
> > limit to be multiplied by the number of partners in a single farming
> > operation - this from the same USDA team that invented commodity program
> > payment limitation loopholes that provide million dollar payments to
> > large grain and cotton operations!  The Grassley amendment tries to nip this
> > slide toward more handouts for the powerful in the bud.
> >
> > Please note -- the Grassley amendment does not change the total funding
> > for the EQIP program ($1 billion in 2004).  It only addresses the
> > payment limitation and thus the distribution of dollars internally within the
program.

STATISTICS YOU CAN USE TO SUPPORT
THE GRASSLEY EQIP PAYMENT LIMITATION AMENDMENT
(developed by Sustainable Agriculture Coalition)

According to the USDA Economic Analysis that accompanied the EQIP Final
Rule, the vast majority of CAFOs/AFOs are not affected by a $300,000
payment limit.  The limitation, nonetheless, would be quite effective in
ensuring that the small number of mega operations that control a
disproportionate share of livestock are not subsidized for each and
every animal that they add to their herds and operations.  The amendment will
decrease the EQIP-based incentive to consolidation and concentration.
At the same time, it will allow more small and moderate-sized farms to
participate in the EQIP program.
> >
A $450,000 payment limit has no effect on 98.9 percent of all livestock
operations.  This 98.9 percent of all operations control 72.8 percent of
all animal units.
> >
A $300,000 payment limit has no effect on 97.8 percent of all livestock
operations.  This 97.8 percent of all operations control 67.3 percent of
all animal units.
> >
A $200,000 payment limit has no effect on 96.1 percent of all livestock
operations.  This 96.1 percent of all operations control 61.6 percent of all animal units.
> >
Each 1% of all farms equals 2,572 farms.
> >
Each 1% of all animal units equals 538,928 animal units.

> >
> > THANK YOU FOR MAKING THESE CALLS TODAY!
> >
> > TOGETHER, WE CAN TAKE BACK OUR PROGRAM!