USDA seeking public comment on revised conservation practice standards

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Farm Forum

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking public comment on proposed revisions to 23 national conservation practice standards through a posting in the federal register. The proposed revisions will publish Mar. 9 with comments due Apr. 8.

“The NRCS wants to ensure that the standards used to carry out the conservation practices are relevant to local agricultural, forestry and natural resource needs,” acting NRCS chief Terry Cosby said. “We are revising conservation practice standards to make sure they are the best technology and address the needs of producers and the natural resources on their land.”

Proposed revisions to the national conservation practice standards include:

  • Stream crossing: modification to allow vented fords as an alternative
  • Waste treatment, milk houses: include as a new conservation practice for the treatment of greywater from the cleaning of milking equipment
  • Energy efficient agricultural operation: formerly known as Farmstead Energy Improvement, rewritten to focus on energy efficiency criteria, fire and electrical safety, flexibility and manufacturer’s requirements
  • Dry hydrant: adding flexibility intended to encourage more landowners to install dry hydrants to meet fire suppression needs

The 2018 Farm Bill required NRCS to review all 169 existing national conservation practices and seek opportunities to increase flexibility and incorporate new technologies to help the nation’s farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners better protect natural resources on their working lands. In 2020, 57 conservation practice standards were updated after public review and are available on the NRCS website. The NRCS’s conservation practices offer guidelines for planning, installing, operating and maintaining conservation practices nationwide.

Submitting Comments

The NRCS is encouraging agricultural producers, landowners, organizations, tribes and others that use its conservation practices to comment on these revised conservation practice standards. The NRCS will use public comments to further enhance its conservation practice standards.

The proposed revisions to the 23 conservation practice standards are available on the federal register. Comments can be made through, by mail or hand delivery.