The deadline looms for pork producers designated as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to implement nutrient management plans. The catch is a lack of adequate cost-share assistance.
By the end of 2006, pork producers whose farms are designated as CAFOs must have a nutrient management plan in place to meet state and federal environmental rules.
To comply by the deadline, producers should get started planning projects now, urges Mark Berkland, consultant for Environmental Management Solutions (EMS), LLC. The Des Moines, IA-based company helps pork producers apply for funding aid through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and implement conservation practices.
However, pork producers seeking to apply for EQIP funding have become frustrated by a regulatory roadblock.
Despite the fact that the pork industry has invested a lot of effort in getting the EQIP program off the ground, they have not received their fair share of EQIP dollars, says Tom Hebert, analyst for Capitolink, a Washington, DC-based firm that consults for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).
The result is that some producers have stopped applying for funding, he says. Funds are administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
“The swine industry has not boded well in capturing the cost-share funds that we need and anticipated that we would receive from EQIP,” charges Kirk Ferrell, NPPC vice president of Public Policy.
NPPC President Keith Berry, a pork producer from Greencastle, IN, recently sent a letter to the U.S. Senate after a hearing about EQIP problems.
“The total cost-share assistance provided by EQIP in 2003 was almost $483 million, of which $314 million went to livestock producers,” he said in the NPPC letter. “Of this latter figure, only 3.5%, or $11 million, was provided to pork producers. Pork producers received less cost-share assistance than all other categories of livestock for which the NRCS has reported data, including the category representing ‘Other Livestock’ (goats, elk, bison, emu, ostrich, etc.).
“Of this $314 million that went to all livestock, about $105 million was clearly identifiable as going to animal feeding operations with confinement facilities. But again, pork producers received only $7.6 million of these funds, or about 7.5%. This is the case even though according to NRCS estimates, swine operations represent about 22% of all confined livestock operations in the U.S.,” said Berry. The allocation shortfall is illustrated in Figure 1.
|Livestock Type||Total Cost-Share Obligateda||Confined Cost-Share Obligated||Unconfined Cost-Share Obligated||Practices Indistinguishable Cost-Share Obligated||Total Number of Contracts|
|aTotal cost share obligated was sorted by practices linked to livestock rather than by contract.|
|bUndefined, but could include goats, elk, bison, emu, ostrich, etc.|
The NPPC president added that there are thousands of pork producers who need help in adopting conservation practices to meet applicable regulations “without incurring debt levels that could place their operations and families at considerable financial risk.”
EQIP Problem Uncovered
Last fall, the NPPC surveyed the top 10 hog states and learned of the EQIP funding problem, says Hebert.
EMS' Berkland says EQIP funding has not kept pace with the flood of applications. In fact, there is a $3 billion backlog. Current funding is $800 million/year. By 2006, funding is expected to be $1.2 billion.
NRCS has proposed 22 action points for better coordination of state and national efforts for allocating EQIP funds.
Berkland says another problem is that some producers don't intend to worry about meeting the CAFO rules until they go into effect. He stresses that producers need to start planning now.
By having a nutrient management plan, producers qualify for EQIP funding that provides cost-share assistance for soil, water, animal, plant and air agricultural-related improvement projects. EQIP also provides funding assistance for installation of waste storage facilities.
EQIP may cost-share up to 75% of the cost of certain conservation practices and may provide incentive payments for up to three years to encourage producers to carry out appropriate management practices. About 60% of cost-share support is to be allocated for livestock-related conservation practices.
Applications are approved on a local level by NRCS officials, says Berkland. They weigh the environmental needs of a particular area and rank projects for funding accordingly.
Contact your local NRCS office or EMS' main office by phone (515) 278-8002 or fax (515) 278-8011. For program details, go to www.emsllc.org .