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News Release

USDA Seeks Public Comment on More Revised Conservation Practice Standards

Columbia, SC, March 27, 2020 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking public comment on proposed revisions to 49 national conservation practice standards through a posting in the Federal Register. The proposed revisions posted this week with the public comment period closing April 23, 2020.

The 49 updated national conservation practice standards include:

  • 12 agronomic practices for water quality and erosion control
  • Two aquaculture practices
  • Three forestry practices
  • Six practices affecting waterways
  • Five drainage-related practices
  • Seven livestock-related practices
  • Three energy and air quality practices
  • Eight water conservation practices
  • Three farm traffic-related practices

The 2018 Farm Bill required NRCS to review all 169 existing national conservation practices to 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.

“NRCS is committed to efficiently and effectively implementing the Farm Bill and delivering on our promise to America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners,” State Conservationist Ann English said. “We are taking a close look at our conservation practice standards to make sure they make sense – both for farmers and for natural resources.”

As part of its review, NRCS wanted to ensure, as much as possible, that the standards used to carry out the conservation practices are relevant to local agricultural, forestry and natural resource needs, including specialty crops, native and managed pollinators, bioenergy crop production and forestry. NRCS plans to seek public comment on additional conservation practice standards through the Federal Register process throughout 2020. 

Improvements to the 49 revised conservation practice standards include expanding and updating their scope to incorporate new technology and increasing flexibility, enhancing water conservation practices such as irrigation, and addressing wildlife issues.

NRCS’s conservation practices offer guidelines for planning, installing, operating and maintaining conservation practices used by farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners nationwide.

NRCS helps the nation’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners plan and carry out conservation practices to protect natural resources on their operations. Farm Bill conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program help producers cover the costs to plan and implement these conservation practices.

Submitting Comments                                

NRCS is encouraging agricultural producers, landowners, organizations, tribes and others that use its conservation practices to comment on these revised conservation practice standards. NRCS will use public comments to further enhance its conservation practice standards. NRCS sought the public’s input for 13 other conservation practice standards in October 2019. This followed the March 11, 2019, announcement that the agency was commencing review of the practice standards in the National Handbook of Conservation Practices.

 

Copies of the proposed revisions to the 49 conservation practice standards are available through http://regulations.gov by accessing docket number NRCS-2020-0001. The proposed revised standards can also be downloaded or printed here. 

When submitting comments, please include the volume, date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register. Comments can be submitted using several methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to https://www.regulations.gov and search for docket number NRCS-2020-0001. Follow instructions for submitting comments.

 

  • Mail or Hand Delivery: Mr. Bill Reck, National Environmental Engineer, Conservation Engineering Division, U.S. Department of Agriculture, NRCS, 1400 Independence Ave., South Building, Room 6136, Washington, D.C. 20250.

 

 

For more information on how NRCS is implementing the 2018 Farm Bill, visit NRCS’s Federal Register Notices webpage or farmers.gov/farmbill.

 

 

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