National Pork Producers Council President Barb Determan praised the Senate's defeat of an amendment that would have excluded thousands of pork producers from receiving cost-share funds under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

The Senate farm bill now contains similar language to that passed by the House in October. It replaces participation based on size with a payment cap of $150,000 per contract, consistent with the limits for crop farmers.

“The Wellstone amendment (Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN)) was designed to prevent pork producers from participating in the EQIP program by establishing a series of deliberate roadblocks,” explains Determan. “Modern, family-owned pork operations come in all sizes and shapes, and to limit participation in EQIP based on when or where an operation was built would be just as arbitrary as the standard existing in current law.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates capital costs alone would reach $332,000 for a 3,444-head, farrow-to-finish operation to comply with proposed EPA confinement feeding laws.

An analysis by the Food and Agriculture Research Institute says these costs will severely stress hog operations, and without cost-share assistance, many will close.