USDA Conservation Program and Compliance Flexibility
Conservation Programs: Illinois NRCS says they do have authority to offer flexibility for participants enrolled in Financial Assistance program contracts (EQIP, CSP). Participants would need to ask at their county office and reference the wet weather. If county offices don’t offer flexibility, please let us know.
Conservation Compliance for Highly Erodible Lands (HEL): NRCS understands that some farmers will have performed extra/additional tillage passes compared to their normal “system in use” due to the wet weather and soil crusting/weed pressures that followed. They expect an increase in ephemeral erosion as well. Producers that are found to be “not actively applying” due to these deviations from their norm may submit a written request for a variance due to abnormal weather. Farmers must provide documentation of weather circumstances from their own weather records, a weather service subscription, or the local weather data. The request must specify how your practices (tillage, rotation) deviated from the norm.
For Prevent Plant fields (certified with FSA) that were selected for an HEL Status Review in Crop Year 2019, the fields will be given a Compliance Determination of “Not Completed” since the fields do not have a commodity crop planted. NRCS may contact you to suggest planting a cover crop on those fields. They will urge documentation of planting cover crops, including date stamped photos or seed bills. NRCS advises you to discuss how 2019 decisions may impact your conservation compliance in 2020.