They are making pork in those barns in Iowa, but if you really want to make pork you have to go to Washington. That is where they put EQIP, or the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, into the Farm Bill in 1996 and kept it there this time. It sounds like a good idea- an an initiative to encourage farmers to improve environmental standards.
But as Andrew Martin points out in the New York Times, the megafarms are using the money to build sewage lagoons. He asks Why should taxpayers foot the bill for manure lagoons, particularly under the flag of environmental conservation? Why should taxpayers subsidize expansion of livestock farms? And if livestock farms have created environmental problems, shouldn't the polluters have to pay for the mess that they created, rather than the taxpayers?Martin concludes:
The Senate passed a version of the farm bill that includes about the same amount for EQIP in coming years. A proposal to scale back individual payments to a $240,000 maximum was squelched in part by Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, who maintains that construction costs are higher in the Northeast and that EQIP money is helping to clean up Lake Champlain.
Industrial dairies and manure lagoons in Vermont? Guess I'll rent a cabin in New Hampshire next summer.
The House version of the farm bill would expand EQIP by taking money from another conservation program. The House and Senate will work out their differences in conference committee. But I doubt that they will change the payment formula for EQIP.
So if Congress is to keep sending taxpayer money to farmers to build manure lagoons, it may want to consider a more honest name for the program.
How about "Factory Farm Incentive Program"? ::New York Times