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CAFOS and Cover Crops: A Closer Look at 2015 EQIP Dollars

While the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is supportive of the $230 million of EQIP funding that go to support practices like cover crops and prescribed grazing, we continue to advocate that a much larger percentage of of these conservation dollars should be available for small and mid-sized family farmers and to sustainable grazing systems. Unfortunately, a significant amount of funding goes toward large payments to concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) through funding for waste lagoons, waste transfer, and waste treatment.

These CAFO practices have dubious environmental benefits and even in some cases in a net loss of conservation benefits. NSAC continues to contend that NRCS must stop providing EQIP assistance for building out new or expanding CAFOs in areas with impaired waters, on floodplains, and in excess nutrient regions. Despite the negative environmental impacts resulting from the development and expansion of CAFOs, animal waste storage and treatment facilities is the second largest single user of EQIP funds (behind only irrigation equipment), which in turn reduces funds that would otherwise be available for sustainable management practices.

In FY 2015 alone, NRCS provided more than $100 million in EQIP funding for CAFO-related practices. This amounts to nearly 12 percent of total EQIP funding that could have otherwise gone to support management based practices. CAFO practices that received significant EQIP cost share support in FY 2015 include waste storage facility ($48,718,300), waste facility cover ($23,979,393), animal mortality facility ($8,106,818), and manure transfer ($7,924,843).

Read the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition article here.