FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 18, 2020
Contact: Hannah Packman, 202.554.1600
WASHINGTON – As the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues 2018 Farm Bill implementation with the release of its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Interim Rule, National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging the agency to strengthen the conservation program to better support farmers as they work to ensure the longevity of their land and natural resources. In comments submitted to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and in a subsequent statement, NFU President Roger Johnson emphasized the program’s value and recommended improvements to ensure its efficacy.
“Conserving natural resources and mitigating climate change are top concerns for family farmers and ranchers – so much so that they apply for the programs that help them achieve those goals at a rate that far exceeds capacity. Considering the overwhelming popularity of such programs, including the Environment Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), it is imperative that every dollar earmarked for them is spent wisely and in full.
“NRCS can take several steps to ensure they maximize the environmental impact of EQIP spending. First, we encourage the agency to include climate resilience and soil health in its list of EQIP priorities. These are two of the most critical issues facing agriculture today, and farmers need all available tools and resources to appropriately address them.
“We also recommend that NRCS give individual states the ability to set their own high priority practices for increased payment rates. Local and regional officials are the most knowledgeable about the resource concerns in their communities and should determine, whenever possible, how best to address those concerns.
“Lastly, we urge NRCS to prioritize farmers and ranchers when allocating EQIP funding. While we support the agency’s efforts to improve water conservation by providing financial assistance to states, irrigation districts, and groundwater management districts, that funding should only be available to water management entities that predominantly serve farmers and ranchers, and it should only be used for projects that specifically assist agricultural users.”
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.