USDA to host listening sessions on wetland compliance

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Farm Forum

NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE, Huron, SD – Jeff Zimprich, state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), announced that listening sessions have been scheduled seeking comments on proposed changes to the offsite methods used in making wetland determinations and new wetland mitigation banking alternatives related to implementation of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) wetland compliance provisions. The USDA wetland compliance provisions were originally enacted in the 1985 Farm Bill and through the 2014 Agricultural Act these provisions have been re-linked with Federal Crop Insurance Program premium subsidies.

The sessions will provide an opportunity for farmers and the public to provide comments on technical changes being proposed to the agency’s use of offsite wetland determination procedures. NRCS is also soliciting input on implementation strategies for the wetland mitigation banking provision provided in the Agricultural Act of 2014.

Listening sessions have been scheduled for:

• Ankeny, Iowa on July 28

• Albert Lea, Minnesota on July 29

• Fargo, North Dakota on July 31

• Huron, South Dakota on August 1

The sessions target public participation in the northern plains states. This area which is also known as the Prairie Pothole Region contains numerous small seasonal wetlands which provide important water quality and water storage functions, as well as, breeding and nesting habitat for more than 60 percent of the nation’s migratory waterfowl. NRCS State Conservationist Zimprich stated that, “Our goal is to help landowners understand and meet their wetland compliance responsibilities which are a condition for participation in USDA programs, including crop insurance.” NRCS staff provides farmers the technical assistance needed to manage their working lands in a way that makes agricultural production compatible with the wetland conservation requirements for participation in USDA funded programs.

South Dakota’s listening session will be held at the Crossroads Hotel and Convention Center, 100 4th Street, SW, in Huron on August 1. The session will begin at 10 a.m. Central time and conclude at Noon. For more information on these opportunities, please contact Jerry Jasmer, State Resource Conservationist at (605)-352-1234 or via email at gerald.jasmer@sd.usda.gov.