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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. 

Farmers Deserve a Better System

(Photo: John Minchillo/AP) from article linked below

(Photo: John Minchillo/AP) from article linked below

"These issues are all symptoms of a much larger problem — our current system of agricultural production is rigged against family farmers. Instead of markets and government policies that help all to thrive, we have markets and government policies that enable the largest operators, processors, input manufacturers, and crop insurance companies to become even larger. These firms have everything to gain and nothing to lose from using their wealth, power, and influence to maintain the current “get big or get out” system of agricultural production, in which farmers must continue to adopt new technologies and strive to increase production regardless of demand. Farmers — not large corporations — are the ones forced to tighten their belts in response to low commodity prices."

Read the article from greenbaypressgazette.com here

Room for Everyone? Wisconsin Farmers Union Troubled by Farm Exodus

"Room for everyone – it is a nice sentiment. I’m not sure that it’s true. In 1997, there were 22,500 dairy farms in Wisconsin. Fewer than 10,000 of these farms remain today.

During the same time period, the number of largest CAFOs has doubled. Proposals for 5,000- and even 10,000-cow mega-dairies are emerging, and recently plans surfaced for an out-of-state 16,000-unit hog operation. As an organization that believes we need more farms not fewer, Wisconsin Farmers Union is troubled by this farm exodus.

Did the 12,500 farms that exited from farming during the last 20 years feel that there was a place for them in today’s agricultural economy? Apparently not."

Read Kara O'Connors article in agriview.com here

Joel Salatin: Fostering Small Farms and Better Food

Brenna farm on Madeline Island

Brenna farm on Madeline Island

"Is 21st-century life, from the way we spend our time to the foods we eat, normal? Joy Cardin's guest is a farmer dedicated to sustainable practices--many of which he developed himself. And he says that there's nothing normal about shipping our food great distances, or surrounding our homes with lawns instead of vegetable gardens. He offers practical advice for changing the face of food, and how it could affect every aspect of our lives."

Listen to Joel Salatin on wpr.org here. 

Wisconsin Farmer’s Union Believes in More Farms

Picture from MorningAgClips article (link below)

Picture from MorningAgClips article (link below)

"CAFOs are a lot like the Titanic. The technology is flashy and full speed ahead when seas are calm. But when obstacles emerge (as they always do), CAFO’s aren’t very responsive. In California, many large dairy farms have gone out of business, in large part due to low milk prices and high input costs. When a big ship goes down, it goes down hard, and takes a lot of people with it. Research by the UW Applied Agricultural Economics Department showed that smaller scale Wisconsin farms did much better in the 2009 price tough, for example, because they could raise their own feed and provide labor from their family. Wisconsin should not pursue the California model of large-scale, highly indebted CAFOs."

Read Kara O'Connor's article in morningagclips.com here