Sens. Carper, Coons, Rep. Blunt Rochester urge Farm Bill negotiators to ensure new poultry farmers can access conservation funds

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Washington, September 6, 2018 | Kyle Morse (202-695-0494) | comments

U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons and U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (all D-Del.) sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees urging them to maintain a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill conference report that would allow new poultry farmers to access conservation funds through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). After hearing concerns from poultry farmers in Delaware, they proposed this provision, included in the Senate Farm Bill, to revise previous EQIP language stating that only farmers with an “existing resource concern” could apply for conservation funds. The proposed provision would include language that would require EQIP to provide funding for “identified, new, or expected resource concerns,” so that farmers can access these critical funds before they have birds on their farms.
 
“The State of Delaware is home to a vibrant and thriving poultry industry,” the Senators and Representative wrote. “Many of our farmers utilize EQIP cost share assistance for best management practices that benefit the environment, including manure storage and composting facilities. As we have all visited with poultry growers in our state, we have heard a common problem that is resolved by this provision in the Senate Farm Bill.”

The letter is copied below and is available here

September 6, 2018           

The Honorable Pat Roberts                                                      The Honorable Michael Conaway
Chairman                                                                                  Chairman
Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry                 Committee on Agriculture 
U.S. Senate                                                                               U.S. House of Representatives        
328A Russell Senate Office Building                                      1301 Longworth House Office Building 
Washington DC 20510                                                             Washington DC 20515    
 
The Honorable Debbie Stabenow                                            The Honorable Collin Peterson
Ranking Member                                                                      Ranking Member
Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry                 Committee on Agriculture 
U.S. Senate                                                                               U.S. House of Representatives       
328A Russell Senate Office Building                                      1301 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20510                                                            Washington DC 20515    

Dear Chairman Roberts, Chairman Conaway, Ranking Member Stabenow, and Ranking Member Peterson:

As you continue negotiating a final 2018 Farm Bill conference report, we write to urge you to maintain a provision related to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) in Section 2301(2)(A) of the Senate amendment to H.R. 2. The State of Delaware is home to a vibrant and thriving poultry industry. Many of our farmers utilize EQIP cost share assistance for best management practices that benefit the environment, including manure storage and composting facilities. As we have all visited with poultry growers in our state, we have heard a common problem that is resolved by this provision in the Senate Farm Bill. 

According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), farmers can only apply for EQIP funds when they have an “existing resource concern.” What this means, in practice, is that poultry growers cannot access EQIP funds until they have birds on their farms. This period of time when farmers have birds on their farms but do not have adequate manure management facilities creates environmental and biosecurity challenges and undercuts the mission of EQIP.  

Through our conversations with affected farmers, we have been able to identify a solution to this problem. Rather than requiring farmers to have an “existing resource concern,” our proposed solution is to have EQIP provide funding for “identified, new, or expected resource concerns.” We believe that the current situation our farmers find themselves in is simply an unintended consequence of previous EQIP language, and that this provision represents a commonsense solution that provides a win for both farmers and the environment. 

We are thankful to our Senate colleagues for including this language in the Senate Farm Bill and urge you to maintain it in the final 2018 Farm Bill conference report. Should you or your staff have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Brian Papp in Senator Carper’s office at (202) 224-2441, Anna Yelverton in Senator Coons’ office at (202) 224-5042, or Andrew Donnelly in Congresswoman Blunt Rochester’s office at (202) 225-4165. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely, 


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