Friday, January 2, 2009

Redefining Family Farms

Group says program benefits industrial farms
By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER – 1 day ago

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A federal conservation program originally designed to help small farmers is now disproportionately benefiting industrial livestock operations, according to a new report by a family farm advocacy group.

The Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment examined five years worth of payments through the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program, known as EQIP.

Nationally, industrial hog operations accounted for 37 percent of all EQIP payments, the group determined, even though such businesses account for less than 11 percent of that industry. Industrial dairies received 54 percent of all EQIP dairy contracts. Such businesses represent only 3.9 percent of all dairy operations.

The study found similar disparities on the state level in Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri.

"This report demonstrates what family farmers have known for years: This corporate-controlled, industrial model of livestock production can't survive without taxpayer support," said Rhonda Perry, a Howard County livestock farmer and program director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. Read More

The majority of these so-called industrial farms are actually family farms. They usually include a number of family members in the operation. Everyone has opportunities to apply for EQIP funding. For this report to have any meaning it would have had to shown that smaller operations were denied funding rather than just saying what it does. Groups like those in the article that basically think family farms shouldn’t have very many livestock, actually hurt family farms that are working to incorporate the next generation.

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