Update on Nebraska NRCS Conservation Compliance Reviews
This spring, Nebraska NRCS will adjust compliance review procedures for addressing ephemeral gully erosion on highly erodible land.
LINCOLN, Feb. 27, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has been working with Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers to protect natural resources for over 80 years. During that time, one thing has remained the Agency’s main goal – help prevent soil erosion.
Since the passage of the 1985 Farm Bill, farmers have been required to control erosion on fields that are classified as highly erodible. Each spring, NRCS conducts compliance reviews on a random selection of highly erodible fields to determine if erosion has been controlled as outlined in Farm Bill requirements.
Recently, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviewed compliance review procedures in several states, including Nebraska. In their report, OIG recommended some modifications to NRCS’ compliance review procedures to provide more consistency across the nation. Nebraska NRCS will be making some adjustments during this year’s compliance reviews that may impact several producers in Nebraska.
So, what does this mean for Nebraska farmers and ranchers?
“The main impact will be on farmers whose cropland has been determined by NRCS to be highly erodible,” Nebraska State Conservationist Craig Derickson said, “They will need to consider installing additional conservation practices to better control ephemeral gully erosion.”
Ephemeral gully erosion is characterized by small ditches in fields that farmers often smooth over with disks. Previously, ephemeral gully erosion was only cited as a compliance problem if sediment was leaving the field and causing off-site damages. Now, all ephemeral gullies on fields determined to be highly erodible will need to be controlled to meet the national standard.
“NRCS employees will be working closely with farmers to help them meet the erosion control requirements,” Derickson said. “Farmers will not be expected to make these changes overnight. If erosion control issues are identified during this spring’s compliance reviews, producers will be given time to make adjustments and install needed conservation practices.”
Derickson said practices used to control ephemeral gullies include no-till farming, cover crops, grassed waterways, and terraces. NRCS has conservation programs available to provide financial assistance for producers to install additional conservation practices, and Derickson said Nebraska NRCS has set aside additional funding this year to help meet this need.
Derickson stressed the importance for farmers to meet these erosion control requirements so they will remain eligible for Farm Bill program benefits – which include things like farm loans, conservation program benefits and Federal crop insurance premium subsidies.
“We want to help Nebraska’s farmers be successful in meeting the conservation compliance requirements on highly erodible land. The bottom line is NRCS staff will be available to help farmers identify where ephemeral erosion is or may occur, and then assist them with a conservation plan to identify conservation practices that best fit their farming operation,” Derickson said.
For more information, visit your local NRCS office located within the USDA Service Center or www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov.