Clements: After planting part of his land to soybeans -- in compliance with the conservation program the land was enrolled in -- Virginia farmer Charles Hood was flabbergasted when he was told by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service that he was farming a wetland, a charge that carries severe consequences.
Hood: 2016 - came in and did a national wetlands inventory. Thought everything was going real well, then all of a sudden the plug got pulled and they were all over me - that I was in really bad violation. And they tied up everything with all of the farms that I was associated with, stopped me from planting, they could not get any federal benefits from it.
Clements: Hood says the appeals process was long and tiring.
Hood: Go through different hearings with them, they would say, ‘Have you filed bankruptcy yet Mr. Hood?’ Like they were trying to break me or something. But, I’ve survived all of that and that all has passed now.
Clements: The American Farm Bureau Federation says there are many other farmers who have similar stories – making the need for reform at NRCS dire and immediate. Hood says he fought NRCS to help others.
Hood: We have not had a crop on this land since 2016, until 2019, we were able to put a crop back on it without fear of the government coming in here and messing with me. I stuck with this because I thought it was the right thing to do, and hopefully I will be helping future generations and other farmers across the United States with this issue with dealing with the NRCS.
Clements: Find the video series at fb.org. Micheal Clements, Washington.