|Reminders on government program compliance|
|Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff|
|Tuesday, 19 February 2013 10:10|
COLUMBUS - The USDA Farm Service Agency reminds landowners and operators that in order to be eligible for most FSA and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) program benefits, compliance with Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) provisions is required.
Farmers with HEL determined soils are reminded of tillage, crop residue, and rotation requirements as specified in their conservation plan. NRCS is required to conduct status reviews on a percentage of farms every year to ensure conservation plans are being followed on HEL tracts.
Producers should notify FSA prior to conducting land clearing or drainage projects to ensure compliance. This includes clearing trees or brush, bringing any acreage into agricultural production (even if it was in production at some point in the past, taken out of production for some reason, and now the desire is to bring it back into production). This is nothing new and has been part of overall program policy since 1985.
"If you are planning on installing new tile or grading wet spots in a field, contact your local FSA county office before starting any work," said Steve Maurer, FSA State Executive Director. "Also, if you intend to clear any trees to create new cropland, these areas will need to be reviewed to ensure any work will not jeopardize your eligibility for benefits."
Landowners and operators can complete form, AD-1026 Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) Certification, to determine whether a referral to NRCS is necessary.
"Something as simple as clearing a fence row or converting a pasture into cropland could result in losing USDA benefits on all farms in all counties for the affected participants," explained Maurer.
It is your responsibility to notify FSA and NRCS of intentions to clear ground, improve drainage systems on what may be considered farmed wetlands, deviate from an approved conservation plan on HEL land, etc. BEFORE you perform these actions so reviews can be conducted to ensure your eligibility is maintained. If you have acquired new ground, make sure you inform FSA and NRCS prior to conducting any activities.
For more information on HEL and WC provisions, contact your local FSA office.
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