Rep. Huffman Introduces Farmers CARE Act to Improve the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
Washington, D.C.- Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA) today introduced new legislation to reshape a key federal farm program to improve water and air quality, soil and wildlife habitat, while supporting and improving agricultural operations. The new bill, known as the Farmers CARE Act, would reform the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a longstanding working lands program administered by the USDA.
“We spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year through the EQIP program to help farming and conservation work hand in hand, ” said Rep. Huffman. “But we can do better: these taxpayer dollars should be conserving more land, water, and air, and helping more farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural producers. The Farmers CARE Act would improve EQIP by arming the program with the right tools to fully meet its mission of helping producers make conservation work for them, while also addressing resource needs, from pasture based farming to lower antibiotic use, all for the benefit of the environment, producers, and consumers."
Through EQIP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service provides financial and technical assistance to producers and landowners to keep working agricultural land in production while applying best environmental practices and conserving natural resources.
Huffman’s bill would improve the EQIP program by prioritizing federal spending on projects that demonstrably improve the quality of the environment, increasing payments for highly effective practices, eliminating payments to confined animal feedlot operations (CAFOs), setting aside funding for habitat improvements and pasture-based systems, easing access to the program for organic producers, encouraging water conservation and efficiency, and awarding more contracts to more producers for greater conservation benefit.
“The Farmers CARE Act will help more farmers and ranchers cost-effectively protect natural resources and meet the surging demand for higher welfare, pasture-raised animal products and organic food,” said Chloe Waterman, Senior Food Campaigner, Friends of the Earth. “This bill is vitally needed to counteract the misguided cuts to working lands conservation programs in the GOP Farm Bill.”
The Farmers CARE Act, short for the Farmers Conserving Agricultural Resources through EQIP Act, is cosponsored by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).
The bill is supported by: Friends of the Earth, R Street Institute, Environmental Working Group, ASPCA, Food and Water Watch, Sierra Club, Center for Food Safety, Environment America, Farm Forward, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Conservation Law Foundation, American Rivers, Fresh Energy, American Bird Conservancy, Health Care Without Harm, American Grass-Fed Association, Global Animal Partnership, Organic Consumers Association, Food Democracy Now, Family Farm Defenders, U.S. PIRG.