Today, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) introduced amendments to the House version of the Farm Bill that would strengthen the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and improve the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
EQIP helps American farmers with conservation projects that improve air quality, protect clean water, and develop healthy soil systems. Recent data, unfortunately, shows the majority of EQIP's funding is consumed by large projects inconsistent with most American's definition of "conservation."
Blumenauer's EQIP amendment:
o Provides options to help livestock producers reduce their use of non-therapeutic antibiotics and transition to organic farming practices and more environmentally-friendly pest management practices;
o Prioritizes projects that focus on managing farmland and habitat, not building expensive structures or buying high-priced equipment;
o Prohibits the use of EQIP dollars by projects inconsistent with conservation goals, such as wastewater lagoons at factory farms.
"Antibiotics use in farm animals has skyrocketed in recent years, with unknown implications for our food supply and human health. My amendment will make it easier for farmers to reduce antibiotic and pesticide use. It will also ensure that EQIP dollars are not going to factory farms to build giant, manure-storage tanks which are a gross perversion of the program's original intent." continued Blumenauer."
The CRP provides annual rental payments to landowners to retire vulnerable or environmentally important land from crop production. Congressman Blumenauer's amendment allows states to target high priority conservation and environmentally sensitive areas, and helps re-enroll farmers continuously, so that the conservation benefits aren't lost and farmers have the ability to make long term planning decisions.
"Small farmers and ranchers are the best stewards of the environment that I have come across, and Congress needs to give them the tools necessary to compete and thrive, while still acting in a responsible and sustainable way. I hope that my amendments, and others offered by my colleagues today, can refocus the Farm Bill on food, farms, and family in a way that strengthens local economies, enhances our environment, provides healthy food and agricultural products, and maximizes taxpayers' investments without giveaways to corporate, factory farms," concluded Blumenauer.