Protect Program Eligibility Before Working Wet Areas of Farm


October 31st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

According to USDA, net farm income in 2011 is forecasted to be the highest recorded (adjusted for inflation) since 1974. Fueled by several years of higher grain prices, farmers have been reinvesting some of this increased income into their operations. As seen in fields this fall, many producers are choosing to spend this money on installing tile drainage systems. Higher land prices have also caused many landowners to squeeze more production out of the acres they currently farm by removing fencerows, filling low areas and clearing trees. 

Conservationists with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) warn producers to be cautious about wetland provisions when installing tile, clearing trees or completing other land altering measures. “Farmers and land managers need to protect their farm program benefits by first checking with their local office for a wetland determination prior to working in wet portions of their farms”, said Richard Sims, state conservationist for Iowa NRCS. 

To maintain eligibility, USDA participants must certify that they have not produced crops on wetlands converted after December 23, 1985, and that they did not convert a wetland to make agricultural production possible after November 28, 1990. Any activity that alters natural wetlands, making the production of an agricultural commodity or forage crop more possible is prohibited. These conversion activities may include:

        •      Filling

        •      Draining (surface ditching or subsurface tiling)

        •      Land leveling

        •      Clearing woody vegetation where stumps are removed

        •      Diverting run-off water from a wetland (i.e. building a diversion) 

If found in violation, farmers would lose eligibility for USDA programs, Sims said. For more information or to request a wetland determination, please visit your local USDA Service Center- NRCS Office, 705 NE 6th Street, Suite E, Greenfield; phone: 641/743-6124.