USDA benefits and conservation compliance

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Scherrie Giamanco announced today that 2011 will be an interesting year for Illinois crop producers.  High commodity prices may drive producers to use every available acre this year.  Many producers have also purchased or are renting different land on which they may not be aware of existing converted wetland or highly erodible lands.  Giamanco wishes to caution producers participating in USDA programs to think about every new acre to be planted.  Will the new land meet conservation compliance eligibility?  Will the planting of a converted wetland on one farm cause loss of FSA benefits on all farms in which you have an interest? 

Changes that could impact conservation compliance eligibility issues include, but are not limited to:

Clearing timber areas to create or to expand existing crop areas

Converting a pasture field into a crop field

Cropping areas on a farm that have not been cropped in recent years

Draining a wet spot in a field to make cropping easier

Operating new land that may have converted wetlands and cannot be planted

These are highly erodible and wetlands provision questions that need to be considered each year by producers to ensure that they remain eligible for USDA benefits.  Producers are reminded that in order to be eligible for USDA programs, compliance with Highly Erodible Land (HEL) and Wetland Conservation (WC) provisions are required. Farmers with Highly Erodible (HEL) determined soils are reminded of tillage, crop residue, and rotation requirements as specified per their conservation contract.

Producers are strongly encouraged to contact their local USDA Service Center prior to conducting land clearing or drainage projects to assure eligibility is maintained.