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Installing and/or Modifying Drainage Systems

In preparing for your future 2014 planting plans, many agriculture producers are considering the need for installing new tile and/or expanding existing drainage systems.  If you are considering installing, improving or modifying existing drainage, make sure that you stop by the local Farm Service Agency Office (FSA) to update the AD-1026 form (Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Certification). USDA requires that farmers self-certify their compliance with the Wetland Conservation (WC) provisions; this includes disclosing all new drainage plans that have not been previously evaluated by NRCS.

By updating the AD-1026, you are requesting NRCS evaluation of proposed drainage improvements in order to avoid the conversion of wetlands and ensure your continued eligibility for farm program benefits. When the AD-1026 indicates that drainage manipulations will be installed, improved or modified, a referral will be sent to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), who will evaluate and respond to your request, and provide a certified wetland determination for the fields where drainage is planned if one has not previously been completed.  The Food Security Act (WC) provisions do not require that farmers receive approval prior to undertaking drainage activities.  However, an up-to-date certified wetland determination and evaluation of your proposed activities by NRCS will provide the most accurate information when moving forward with land improvement projects, and will  help ensure continued eligibility for farm program benefits.  Producers who choose to install drainage improvements without a certified wetland determination should be aware that any drainage activities done in an area without previous cropping history; or in areas that are consistently wet, pose a high risk of converting a protected wetland area.  Conversion of non-exempted wetlands could result in the loss of USDA program benefits on all land that the producer operates.

This information applies to the 1985 Food Security Act (FSA) as amended.  Other federal, state or local permits or restrictions may apply to activities impacting wetlands.  It is the responsibility of the participant to obtain other necessary permits.  Contact the Army Corps of Engineers for Clean Water Act permits, the Local Government Unit (LGU) for State Wetland Conservation Act permits, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for protected water permits prior to initiating wetland activities.  The participant can contact these agencies using the “Minnesota Combined Project Application Form” available from the LGU.

To minimize your risk of converting a protected wetland area, plan to contact your local USDA Service Center and update your AD-1026 prior to conducting land clearing or drainage projects.