USDA-NRCS Announces Changes to Strengthen Technical Input in Conservation Programs
WASHINGTON, May 6, 2019 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is expanding the membership of its State Technical Committees and making other changes that strengthen technical input in conservation programs. The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to NRCS programs, including enabling representatives from the State Cooperative Extension Service and land grant universities to serve on the state committee that assists NRCS in guiding locally led conservation.
“NRCS is committed to efficiently and effectively implementing the Farm Bill and delivering on our promise to America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners,” NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr said. “The rule we’re issuing today is a step toward strengthening and streamlining the services and programs that help conserve our nation’s natural resources on working lands.”
Today, NRCS published an interim final rule in the Federal Register to make the existing regulations consistent with the changes made by the 2018 Farm Bill, including the change related to State Technical Committees. NRCS is accepting comments on this rule through July 5, 2019.
Other Miscellaneous Changes in Notice
The 2018 Farm Bill makes some important improvements to strengthen NRCS’s programs, including:
- Waiving the requirement for certain duplicative or unnecessary watershed plans under the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program, which authorizes NRCS to install watershed improvement measures to reduce flooding and advance conservation and proper utilization of land;
- Expanding the purposes of the Healthy Forests Reserve Program to add: protection of at-risk species in conserving forest land, permanent easements as an enrollment option for Tribal lands, and land identified as being in the greatest need to improve the well-being of a species;
- Authorizing that certification of technical service providers be through a qualified non-federal entity; and
- Requiring that $3 million of the funds to implement the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program be used to encourage public access for hunting and other recreational activities on wetlands enrolled in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.
You may submit comments by any of the following methods through the Federal eRulemaking Portal on Docket ID USDA-2019-0005. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
On December 20, 2018, President Trump signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill, which provides support, certainty and stability to our nation’s farmers, ranchers and land stewards by enhancing farm support programs, improving crop insurance, maintaining disaster programs and promoting and supporting voluntary conservation. NRCS is committed to implementing these changes as quickly and effectively as possible, and today’s updates are part of meeting that goal.
As part of implementing the 2018 Farm Bill, NRCS and other USDA agencies publish interim final rules and other documents available for public viewing and comment on the Federal Register. On March 11, 2019, NRCS published a notice and request for comment on conservation practice standards. For more information on how USDA is implementing the Farm Bill, visit farmers.gov/farmbill.