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A letter from the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment

The following is taken from an April 11, 2018 letter from the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members,

On behalf of the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment, we are writing to urge you to reform a Farm Bill conservation program that promotes industrialized concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) at the expense of independent U.S. family farms, rural communities, taxpayers and our natural resources and food supply. In this difficult farm economy, it is critical that public money is spent wisely, reaching the most family farmers. But too often, Farm Bill programs support corporate interests—including corporate-controlled industrial livestock operations. As you work to write the next Farm Bill, we urge you to consider several important changes to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

The EQIP program was designed to provide cost-share and incentive payments to agricultural producers to address natural resource concerns on their farms and it has been used by hundreds of thousands of farmers nationwide to make environmental improvements that benefit the land, family farm operations and their communities. Unfortunately, the 2002 Farm Bill opened EQIP to corporate industrial livestock operations (CAFOs), which house thousands of animals and generate massive quantities of manure. These corporate factory farms are often absentee-controlled (by out of state or foreign interests) and negatively affect the air and water of nearby communities. The burden of addressing this pollution often falls on public services, taxpayers and community members living near the operations. By allowing CAFOs to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize their manure management, EQIP funds have helped corporate agribusiness consolidate and vertically integrate the livestock industry. The 2002 Farm Bill also severely restricted public access to information about the size of EQIP contracts and the practices that are funded. As a result, it is very difficult for the public or policymakers to know how industrial operations are using public money or to assess to what extent EQIP is subsidizing their expansion.

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