The head of the Natural Resources Conservation Service met with regional leaders and commodity groups in West Fargo yesterday to talk about fair and workable guidelines for wetland designations on farms and ranches in the Northern Plains.
Lawmakers and producers have voiced concerns that implementation of wetlands compliance laws have been inconsistent and confusing. Producers are concerned that the rules are being applied differently from state to state – and that heavy precipitation during recent years has resulted in wetlands being incorrectly designated.
Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief White was receptive to many of the concerns raised during yesterday’s meeting. However, he cautioned that changing the rules on wetland determinations won’t happen overnight.
One proposed improvement for wetland determinations is using precipitation data from 1970 to 2000 to ensure a reasonable average for “normal” farm conditions.
White said he feels the guidance for wetlands determinations that NRCS is working on will be more consistent and workable. He says that by September they will come up with a solution for wetland determination backlogs.
Leaders encouraged Chief White to use feedback from the meeting to work on a regional wetlands policy, which would have to be approved by USDA before being issued.