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The Minnesota Project Comments on EQIP Rule Changes

April 15, 2009

Responding to recently released Interim Final Rules issued by the USDA on EQIP, or Environmental Quality Improvement Program, The Minnesota Project submitted comments to USDA outlining problems with the Rules and presenting suggestions to better meet program goals.

As its stands currently, the Interim Final Rule possesses some problematic language.  First, it opens a loophole in which large farms may be granted assistance above the established $300,000 payment limitation.  This loophole creates an unnecessary advantage to industrial agriculture.  The Interim Final Rule on EQIP limits conservation planning assistance to just nutrient management planning.  A more effective approach would allow for EQIP assistance on whole farm conservation planning. 

In an interesting omission of key environmental quality improvements, the Interim Final Rule does not address pollinator habitat or energy conservation.  Considering the role pollinators have in agricultural production and overall environmental health and their recent population collapse, EQIP rules to improve pollinator habitat not only adhere to EQIP goals, but would provide multiple benefits.  Energy conservation similarly plays a role in environmental quality and must be addressed through EQIP.

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