Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

Conservation Compliance Final Rule Falls Short

Podcasts / Newsline September 1, 2020

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A new NRCS conservation compliance rule falls short of farmers needs, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Micheal Clements tells us how the rule doesn’t address what Farm Bureau calls unfair treatment of farmers.

Clements: The American Farm Bureau Federation says the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Final Rule does not remedy unfair enforcement by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Don Parrish, AFBF Senior Regulatory Relations Director, calls the final rule problematic for farmers.

Parrish: If you combine bringing terms into this regulation that aren’t congressionally authorized, like abandonment, changing the rainfall precipitation data that they use to make a determination on when things are prior converted, minimal effect, as well as incorporating things into a regulation things that they have been using to bind farmers from guidance and manuals that farmers have never had an opportunity to comment on, all of those add up to this being a really problematic regulation.

Clements: Parrish says farmers need clear rules and safeguards to ensure fair treatment of farmers in conservation compliance.

Parrish: It doesn’t necessarily impact all farmers at once, but when it does impact a particular farmer, it has a significant implication for them. And unfortunately, it makes it really difficult for farmers to be able to go through the process, not only understand it, but it makes it very difficult for them to come out on the other side feeling like they have been heard, feeling like they’ve got justification, and feeling like they’ve dealt with an agency that should work with them.

Clements: Parrish says Farm Bureau will analyze the final rule closely to see what needs to happen next for farmers.

Parrish: Do these regulations specifically line up with the statute? That’s a legal question. We’re also going to look at the policy issues going forward. Come next farm bill, are there going to be issues associated with conservation compliance front and center? There may be, and we’re going to look at that as well. My message to this administration, you missed an opportunity. That is a disappointing outcome and we expected better.

Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.

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