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Conservation Compliance

Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Compliance:

Don’t Risk Your USDA Benefits!

What activities could put me at risk?

Activities that could affect Highly Erodible Land (HEL)/Wetland compliance need to be evaluated by NRCS. Examples are:

  • Land clearing
  • Filling
  • Leveling
  • Excavation
  • Dredging
  • Stump removal
  • Creating or improving new drainage systems

To initiate the process visit your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office, fill out an AD-1026 form. FSA will forward the request to NRCS for evaluation. Find local USDA Service Center locations at:

What is Conservation Compliance?

The Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Compliance provisions are required in the Farm Bill to participate in USDA programs. The purpose of these provisions is to protect highly erodible land from excessive soil erosion and protect wetlands.

Provision Objectives

  • Reduce soil loss due to wind and water erosion.
  • Protect the Nation’s long-term capability to produce food and fiber.
  • Reduce sedimentation and improve water quality.
  • Assist in preserving the functions and values of the Nation’s wetlands.

How do I maintain Conservation Compliance and my USDA Program Benefits?

Protect Highly Erodible Land
Find out if any fields are designated as Highly Erodible Land (HEL). Fields designated as highly erodible must be protected from excessive soil erosion when used to produce agricultural commodities by applying an approved conservation system.

Get a Wetland Determination
Participants must certify that crops have not been planted on land that was converted from a wetland to cropland between December 23, 1985 and November 28, 1990 (if so, they are ineligible for program benefits in any year an ag commodity was planted). Participants must also certify that a wetland has not been converted to make ag-production possible after November 28, 1990 (if so, they are ineligible for program benefits until the wetland is restored or mitigated in another location).

USDA Benefits That Can Be Affected

Commodity Programs:

Conservation programs:

  • Direct and Counter Cyclical Program
  • Non-Insured Assistance Program (fruit and vegetable producers)
  • Supplemental Agriculture Crop
  • Disaster Assistance Program (SURE)
  • Livestock Disaster Assistance Program
  • Price Support Assistance
  • Farm Direct and Operating Loan Program
  • Conservation Reserve Program
  • Conservation Stewardship Program
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program
  • Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
  • Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

Variances and exemptions to the provisions may be granted under some conditions.



Highly Erodible Land (HEL): A field will be considered highly erodible if either one third or more of the field is highly erodible, or if the highly erodible land in the field totals 50 acres or more. Wetlands: Land with all three of the following characteristics: 1) primarily wet soils, 2) supportive of wetland plants, and 3) possessing wetland

Public Meetings and Trainings on HEL Determinations

We will be listing on this page public meetings, trainings and workshops as they are established. For questions about HEL or future events regarding HEL Determinations, please email  Matt Flint, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist.

More Information

For more information visit your local USDA Service Center

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Program Contact

Matt Flint, Assistant State Conservationist , 919-873-2124