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Conservation Compliance

Conservation Compliance

In order to maintain eligibility for most USDA programs, producers must comply with the Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) provisions, agreeing they will not:

  • Produce an agricultural commodity on highly erodible land without an adequate conservation system;
  • Plant an agricultural commodity on a converted wetland;
  • Convert a wetland to make possible the production of an agricultural commodity.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is responsible for providing program participants technical assistance and determinations to assist them in complying with the provisions.

Massachusetts HELC and WC provision information

State contact:

Kate Parsons
Resource Conservationist
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
451 West St, Suite 1
Amherst, Massachusetts 01002-2953
kate.parsons@ma.usda.gov 
(413) 253-4380 

State HELC and WC technical resources

Given the geographical differences of wetlands, soils, and climate in each State; information and technical resources specific to Massachusetts implementation of the HELC/WC provisions are provided below:

Massachusetts HEL and PHEL soils:

State Offsite Methods (SOSM) for Wetland Determinations - Used to make wetland determinations and delineations on agricultural lands utilizing a variety of data, including aerial imagery and other resource inventory data. Massachusetts' ** SOSM will be posted once they are finalized. **

Wetland Conservation Provision Job Approval Authority - A list of agency experts that possess the requisite training, knowledge, skills, and abilities to issue technical determinations and decisions)

Other Massachusetts Resources

Massachusetts Minimal Effect Procedure - Part 515 of the National Food Security Act Manual (NFSAM), Fourth Edition, allows NRCS to grant a USDA program participant an exemption from Swampbuster in situations where the proposed action will have a minimal effect on the wetland functions and values. USDA program participants must request the minimal effect exemption. Participants are limited to 1/3 acres of minimal effect exemption per Farm Service Agency Tract.

US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) Highway Methodology Workbook Supplement - The ACOE Highway Methodology is used to evaluate the functions and values of wetlands when USDA participants request a minimal effect or for restoration plans.