USDA NRCS Update on Conservation Compliance in New Farm Bill

USDA NRCS Update on Conservation Compliance in New Farm Bill

Producers are reminded to check with USDA before breaking out new ground or altering wetlands.

As the days become longer and warmer, Nebraska producers begin spring planting. The USDA wants to remind farmers to keep conservation compliance in mind before making any major land use changes on their farming or ranching operations.

Conservation compliance refers to the USDA requirement that highly erodible land be
farmed in a manner that maintains a certain level of residue and minimizes soil erosion. This may include practicing no-till or planting cover crops.
Conservation compliance also prohibits the conversion of wetlands, or planting
agricultural commodities on a converted wetland.  Converting a wetland may include removal of trees, installing new drainage, or modifying existing drainage areas.     

According to Craig Derickson, state conservationist with the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service, there has been some confusion on what is required of farmers regarding conservation compliance with the passage of the new Farm Bill.

      "We want producers to be sure to visit their local USDA Service Center before making any major land use changes on their farm or ranch. Although rules have changed due to the new Farm Bill, there are still requirements producers need to follow to remain eligible for USDA farm benefits," Derickson said.

The Agricultural Act of 2014 – the new Farm Bill - continues the requirement that producers adhere to conservation compliance guidelines in order to be eligible for most programs administered by USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This includes the new price and revenue protection programs, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Livestock Disaster Assistance Programs and Marketing Assistance Loans implemented by FSA. It also includes conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) administered by NRCS. 

      The 2014 Farm Bill now also extends conservation compliance as an eligibility
requirement for federal crop insurance premium subsidies. When a producer is determined to be in violation of conservation compliance rules, it not only causes ineligibility for USDA program benefits on the farm in violation, but also on all other farms in which that producer has an interest. The result can have a significant monetary impact on that producer and his or her farming operation.
      Derickson said, "Producers should keep in mind that if they alter a wetland or break out grassland for new cropland, they risk losing their crop insurance premium subsidy. This affects eligibility not only for crop insurance premium subsidies but also USDA commodity, conservation, and disaster program benefits, as well."

      Derickson went on to say to ensure conservation compliance requirements are met, it's important for producers to work closely with their local NRCS and FSA offices. 

      "Staff at the USDA Service Center will work one-on-one with producers to ensure that any new farming operations will protect natural resources and the sustainability of their farm, and don't put their USDA farm program benefits at risk. Now more than ever, it's critical for conservation compliance to be a strategic part of each producer's operation," Derickson said.

For more information about the 2014 Farm Bill, and how it may impact your farm or ranch, visit your local USDA Service Center. To locate a USDA Service Center visit

NRCS News Release

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