If you are a USDA farm program participant planning on clearing, draining or manipulating land for agricultural use, you may want to read the following information that can affect your eligibility.

State Conservationist James E. Tillman Sr., for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service in Georgia, wants to remind USDA farm program participants who are planning to clear lands to consider that any wetlands they may encounter during land clearing operations are still subject to the wetland conservation provision of the Food Security Act of 1985 (commonly referred to as the 1985 farm bill), as amended.

Tillman says, “That while subsequent versions of the farm bill have provided many changes to the programs and the rules over the years, the wetland conservation provisions have remained intact.”

He added, “Even geographically isolated wetlands are subject to these provisions though isolated wetlands may or may not be subject to other wetland protection laws.”

The wetland conservation compliance provision was first introduced in the 1985 farm bill to discourage the production of agricultural commodities on converted wetlands after 1985.

The rule requires that people who convert wetlands to allow production of agricultural commodities will be ineligible for USDA farm program benefits until the functions of the converted wetlands are mitigated or restored.

The rule provides protection for those producers who produce commodities on wetlands providing the wetlands were historically in production prior to 1985 and production was still possible in 1985.

Georgia’s Acting State Executive Director for the USDA-Farm Service Agency, David Laster, also wants to remind producers and program participants that the 1985 Act has broad eligibility implications and impacts that reach across the USDA Agencies.