The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is an essential initiative that gives thousands of farmers the tools they need to implement sustainable practices such as cover cropping and managed rotational grazing. Yet, a majority of farmers are unable to access EQIP funding. In 2022, only 26% of EQIP applicants in Minnesota were awarded contracts, which tracks the national average. Additionally, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars in EQIP funds on infrastructure practices that often support practices on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and mega-cropping operations that provide little environmental benefit.
The EQIP Improvement Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Mike Lee (R-UT), would redirect support towards farmers and ranchers that need it the most by targeting funding to more producers and prioritizing conservation practices with significantly greater environmental and water quality benefits. The bill:
- Reduces the maximum EQIP grant from $450,000 to $150,000. EQIP can reach more farmers without increasing funding by providing smaller grants to many more farmers, rather than large grants to a smaller number of producers.
- Eliminates the requirement that 50% of EQIP funding flow to livestock operations. Many of these dollars are spent on CAFOs. Some of these CAFO-focused practices, such as waste facility covers and waste storage facilities, are among the most expensive EQIP practices.
The EQIP Improvement Act will reshape EQIP to be more equitable and effective. Could you take just two minutes to ask your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators to co-sponsor the EQIP Improvement Act?