Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) is pushing legislation that would limit the federal money available to confined animal feeding operations for manure management purposes.

Wellstone says his amendment is necessary to prevent increasing consolidation in the livestock industry. He believes producers running “large” operations should pay their own environmental costs. But some in the pork industry argue that it would force out mid-sized farmers who would then face increased environmental costs.

The money in question is part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which subsidizes the cost of on-farm manure management and other conservation projects. Currently, producers with more than 1,000 animal units (2,500 hogs) are eligible for the program. But the Farm Bill current proposals under consideration in Congress lift that restriction. Wellstone's amendment, which the Senate will take up when it returns later this month, would reinstate the limit for new or expanding livestock operations with more than 1,000 animal units.

The Senate Agriculture Committee chairman, Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, supports the legislation, as do the National Farmers Union and several environmental groups.

EQIP is one of the few programs available to help pork producers with manure management projects. Without it, many producers running operations of all sizes would suffer economically.

Associated Press