The 1996 Farm Bill made several statutory changes to the existing Swampbuster
provisions that give USDA participants more flexibility in complying with the
wetland conservation requirements while protecting natural resources. These
changes are as follows:
Expands areas where mitigation can be used. This allows individuals to
work with NRCS to select the best area for mitigating wetlands.
Provides more options for mitigation, including restoration, enhancement,
or creation as long as wetland functions are maintained.
Encourages effective and timely use of "minimal effect" determinations.
This change allows the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), working
with state technical committees, to identify activities and practices that
have a minimal effect on wetland resources and put them on a "fast track."
Stipulates that wetland conversion activities, authorized by a permit
issued under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which make agriculture
production possible, will be accepted for farm bill purposes if they were
Revises the concept of "abandonment" to ensure that as long as land is
used for agriculture, a certified Prior Converted cropland designation remains
in effect. (This provision only pertains Swampbuster).
Encourages farmers to restore Farmed Wetlands (FW) and Farmed Wetlands
Pasture (FWP) under an approved plan with the option to convert it back to an
FW or FWP for agricultural purposes without violating the Swampbuster
Provides USDA program participants the opportunity to request review of
previous wetland determinations to verify their accuracy. A certified wetland
determination will remain in effect as long as the land is used for
agricultural purposes. (This provision only pertains to Swampbuster).
Provides the Secretary with the discretion to waive penalties for
ineligibility and to grant time to restore converted wetlands.