Today Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) offered two amendments to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill, including one that would reprogram $2 million in the FY2015 Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) budget to address the backlog of undetermined wetlands in all states.
“Conservation compliance is an eligibility requirement for crop insurance premium assistance and most other federal farm program benefits,” said Thune. “With a backlog of more than 3,000 undetermined wetlands in South Dakota these farmers cannot apply any water management practices on their land because they do not know where NRCS will determine wetlands are located. Some farmers have been waiting two or more years for these determinations.”
Thune’s wetlands determination funding amendment would not increase federal spending, but would simply reallocate $2 million of the existing FY2015 NRCS appropriations as dedicated funding for wetlands determinations. The money would be divided proportionately according to the number of undetermined wetlands in each state.
Thune’s second amendment directs the Secretary Agriculture to complete National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) activities, if required, within 30 days of receiving an emergency Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) haying or grazing request due to drought.
“In the drought of 2012, farmers were forced to wait for USDA to complete NEPA requirements before certain CRP practices could be approved by the Secretary for emergency haying and grazing,” commented Thune. “This amendment requires the Secretary to expedite this process to make emergency feed available when a drought occurs.”