Conservation Compliance Final Rule Falls Short

Farmers remain powerless in the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Final Rule made public today by the USDA. The American Farm Bureau Federation advocated for clear rules and safeguards to ensure fair treatment of farmers in conservation compliance, but the final rule does not remedy unfair enforcement by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The following statement may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall:

“After decades without a finalized rule in this area, we finally have one, but unfortunately it falls short.

“Farmers and ranchers are some of the strongest advocates of conservation, as demonstrated by the 140 million acres they’ve voluntarily committed to federal conservation programs. That’s not what this is about. This is about unfair treatment, which we’ve clearly laid out for USDA in previous comments and many meetings, backed by court rulings.

“Farmers deserve a fair process and clarity, including an understanding of the exemptions authorized by Congress. They deserve to be protected from repeated, unjustified, costly decisions by NRCS. Although we appreciate recent actions by USDA to rectify historic wrongs, this was a missed opportunity to ensure fairness going forward.

“We will continue to examine this rule and our options to address its shortcomings.”

Background:

Read the final conservation compliance rule.
Examples of unfair conservation compliance enforcement (including testimonial):

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