Angela K. Vos, County Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Marion County, reminds landowners and operators that in order to receive payments from USDA, compliance with Highly Erodible Land (HEL) and Wetland Conservation (WC) provisions are required.
“High grain prices have caused many operators to break out new land, clear trees, and other activities to bring land into crop production, including what was Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage” said Vos. “Producers should have these areas reviewed to ensure any work will not jeopardize your eligibility for benefits now or in the future.”
Farmers with HEL determined soils are reminded to follow tillage, crop residue, and rotation requirements as specified in their conservation systems. Producers should notify FSA prior to conducting land clearing or drainage projects to ensure compliance.
Landowners and operators can complete form AD-1026 Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) Certification to determine whether a referral to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is necessary. “Something as simple as clearing a fence row or converting a pasture into cropland could result in losing USDA benefits,” added Vos.
Persons who produce an agricultural commodity on a field(s) where highly erodible land is predominate, are ineligible for benefits under the Highly Erodible Land Provisions (HELC) unless have been determined by NRCS that a conservation system is being actively applied. This conservation system must be adequate for highly erodible land and will be based on the local NRCS technical guide.
Under the Wetland Conservation (WC) Provisions, persons are ineligible for benefits if they; plant an agricultural commodity on a wetland that was converted after December 23, 1985, or if they convert a wetland after November 28, 1990, by draining, dredging, filing, leveling or any other means for the purpose, or to have the effect, of making the production of an agricultural commodity possible.
Much of the acreage that has been offered into CRP was eligible because the land was highly erodible. Producers should review their conservation plan or discuss their conservation systems with NRCS before former CRP acreage is converted back to agricultural production. If planting or field tillage has encroached into the boundaries of the CRP acreage, the contract is in non-compliance status and subject to termination or penalty.
For more information on Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions, contact your local FSA office or visit FSA on-line at www.fsa.usda.gov.