Mark Cadle, State Executive Director for Missouri's Farm Service Agency (FSA) cautions agricultural producers to consult with FSA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) before breaking out new ground for production as doing so without prior authorization may put a producer's federal farm program benefits in jeopardy.
Although checking with USDA anytime ground is cleared or otherwise converted is a good business practice, this is especially true for ground that is considered highly erodible (HEL) or is considered a wetland. Producers participating in federal farm programs and any person or entity considered to be an "affiliated person" of the producer, are subject to regulations pertaining to ground having HEL or wetland determinations.
Consult with FSA before clearing
"Before heading out with a dozer to clear a fence line or hiring a contractor to drain or fill in wet areas in a field, it is extremely important that you have consulted with our staff to ensure these acres are not considered highly erodible or wetland acres," said Cadle. "I assure you, the hour or so spent working with our staff to make sure your plans won't impact these fragile lands before you head to the field, will be time well spent."
USDA enacted Highly Erodible and Wetland Conservation Provisions in 1985 to reduce soil loss; reduce sedimentation and improve water quality; preserve the nation's wetland; protect the nation's long-term capacity to produce food and fiber; and remove incentive for persons to produce agricultural commodities on highly erodible land or converted wetlands.