The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Wisconsin will soon begin conducting status reviews of farms participating in USDA programs.
The conservation compliance section of the 2014 Farm Bill requires farmers who are participating in the USDA program to control erosion on highly erodible cropland, and avoid converting wetlands into cropland for commodity crop production. Program participants are required to self-certify compliance with these rules. NRCS conducts about 1300 status reviews per year statewide to ensure compliance with these program eligibility requirements.
The most typical type of Highly Erodible Land violations are excessive tillage leading to gullies and significant soil erosion on cropland.
The most typical type of wetland violation is clearing brush and trees from wetlands or adding ditches or drainage tile to drain a wetland or within up to 200 feet of a wetland.
USDA program participants are required to certify every year that they have a conservation plan or system in effect on their highly erodible cropland, and have not converted wetlands. USDA loan applicants also are required to certify conservation compliance and wetland compliance.
The 2014 farm bill added the federal subsidy for crop insurance to the list of USDA benefits that require conservation compliance. The new crop insurance eligibility requirements will take effect beginning with the 2015 growing season.
USDA program participants who are not sure about the status of their conservation plan or system should contact their local NRCS office. A variance to the conservation compliance requirements is allowed when a program participant is working with NRCS to plan or revise their conservation plan.