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EQIP Cuts Worse Than Expected

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, June 16, 2009

WASHINGTON – The US Geological Survey reported today that nutrient loading in the Gulf of Mexico will be among the highest measured in the past 30 years. This news underscores how decades of broken funding promises are a big reason why agriculture is a leading cause of pollution in American lakes, rivers, and streams.

News of $270 million in proposed cuts to the U.S. Agriculture Department's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) calls into question Congress’s commitment to solving agricultural pollution's serious and growing risk to the environment. With the threat of a record Gulf “Dead Zone,” now is not the time to cut conservation funding.

  • Wild lands are being plowed under to produce nutrient intensive crops to meet increased demand for food and fuel.
  • Progress in reducing soil erosion has stalled since 1997.
  • Advanced soil, nutrient, livestock, and organic practices remain the exception rather than the rule in the United States.
  • Agriculture has the potential to be carbon neutral, yet the Congressional Research Service reported that agriculture is currently sequestering only enough carbon to offset less than 5 percent of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions each year.
  • “Today’s USGS release clearly demonstrates the danger agriculture poses to America’s waterways without adequate conservation programs in place to mitigate the damage,” said Craig Cox, Environmental Working Group Midwest Vice President.

    “It is wholly inconsistent, at best, to cut EQIP year after year while simultaneously arguing that voluntary programs are the only way agriculture can be expected to protect our soil, water, air, and wildlife. The weaknesses of a purely voluntary approach to solving long-standing conservation problems is becoming more apparent everyday. This is no time to weaken the EQIP program,” Cox concluded.

    Thankfully, some conservation programs escaped cuts. The appropriations mark up conducted by the House subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies spared the Wetlands Preserve Program (WRP), Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program (FRPP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) from any cuts.

    Go here for the USGS report: http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=2240&from=rss_home

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    EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. The group’s farm subsidy database and related reports can be found at www.mulchblog.com.

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