Clarke-Decatur County farmers are reminded that in order to receive payments from USDA, compliance with Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) provisions are required.
“As spring field work commences, farmers should remember that some activities could jeopardize the eligibility for benefits now or in the future,” said Joyce Frost, county executive director for the Clarke-Decatur County FSA Office. “Activities such as breaking out new land, clearing trees or other similar activities to bring land into crop production, including what was Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage should be reviewed first.”
Farmers with highly erodible soils HEL determined soils are reminded to follow tillage, crop residue, and rotation requirements as specified in their conservation plans or following an acceptable conservation system.
Producers should notify FSA prior to conducting land clearing or drainage projects to insure 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 Frost.
People who produce an agricultural commodity on a field(s) where highly erodible land is predominate, are eligible for benefits under the Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) provisions unless it has been determined by NRCS that an acceptable conservation system is not 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 Nov. 28, 1990, by draining dredging, filling, 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 the Clarke-Decatur County FSA Office or visit FSA on-line at www.fsa.usda.gov.