Farm Wetlands -- A New Spirit of Cooperation?

Inside Dakota Ag

The new NRCS state conservationist in North Dakota hopes to improve customer service on the farm.

Published on: December 18, 2011

I talked to Mary Podoll, the new Natural Resources Conservation Service state conservationist in North Dakota, the other day and was surprised and pleased by what she told me.

Podoll said she wants NRCS to improve its farm "customer service."

When a producer submits a request to install drain tile or to maintain a ditch on a farm, Podoll says she'd like NRCS to be able get its wetland determination done more quickly, perhaps in just a few months.

She also said she'd like NRCS to be less territorial, or protective, of individual wetlands on a farm. She'd like the agency to provide more information about the opportunity to move, or mitigate wetlands, to another part of the farm.

Mary Podoll is the new NRCS state conservationist in North Dakota.
Mary Podoll is the new NRCS state conservationist in North Dakota.

That's something I've heard many producers say they wish they could do on their farm. They don't want to eliminate all farm wetlands, they'd just like to be able to drain nuisance wetlands – small spots in the middle of a field, for example, that keep them from planting the whole field on time. They'd be more than willing to store the water in a new wetland that would be good for wildlife and their farm.

Podoll seems to agree. She told me NRCS needs to be more open to what farmers need to do to be economically sustainable.

It will be interesting to see what Podoll can do.


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  1. Anonymous says:

    Isn't it the Swampbuster provisions of the Farm Bill that protects wetlands. NRCS is implementing those provisions.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Years ago, a USDA saying, "Sometimes it is better to say you are working on something that it is to ever finish it." Perhaps the saying is still around. JS

  3. Anonymous says:

    I agree that Mary has a big job to do. Having a government agency help and work with farmers to improve their land and productivity would be GREAT but maybe it is just wishful thinking!! I think over the last years the NRCS has become more of a policing department than an education department. Lets hope Mary can turn this ship around. BT