Livestock producers will need at least $10 billion to help them comply with pending environmental rules to protect air and water resources, National Pork Producers Council President Barbara Determan told the House Agriculture Committee last week.

Determan, a pork producer from Early, Iowa, testified before the Committee with representatives of other livestock groups regarding the future of farm programs. Determan told the Committee that while pork producers could support changes to the FAIR Act, "any changes in commodity programs that effect the price of feed would have a profound, adverse financial impact on our industry."

"Approximately 65 percent of the cost of raising a hog is feed, corn and soybeans being the major components," Determan said. "Overall, U.S. pork producers use 16 percent of the soybeans and 12 percent of the corn raised in America."

The next farm bill should be about much more than commodity programs and that conservation needed to take center stage, said Determan. She presented a detailed analysis indicating that livestock producers would need at least $10 billion in assistance in order to meet "costly environmental regulations as a result of state or federal law designed to protect water quality."

"We urge that the Committee support at least $10 billion over the life of a five-year farm bill in mandatory spending for USDA conservation programs to address livestock's environmental needs, specifically for water and air quality," she said

Determan's analysis was based on a 75/25 cost-share formula, something that is now used under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. She contended that any new conservation program must be available nationally and must be open without restriction to every producer, regardless of size or production system.

"One of the important reasons that EQIP has fallen short of its potential to improve the environment has been its prohibition against large livestock operations receiving manure management structural assistance," Determan said. "Instead of a size limitation, we feel it is more appropriate and equitable if the livestock community is treated in the same manner as row-crop producers through the use of a payment limitation."

National Pork Producers Council