Missouri famers who participate in USDA programs will be required to provide additional control of ephemeral gully erosion on their highly erodible fields, State Conservationist J.R. Flores said.

Ephemeral gullies are the smaller ditches in fields that farmers often smooth with a disc before planting crops. Flores, who heads the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Missouri, said that previously, compliance was not an issue when fields contained only small areas of ephemeral gully erosion.

He said the change is in response to a recent Office of Inspector General (OIG) report comparing compliance review procedures in several states. OIG recommended modifications to NRCS’ compliance review procedures to provide more consistency across the nation. Thus, Missouri NRCS will be making adjustments during this year’s compliance reviews that might impact farmers.

Since the passage of the 1985 Farm Bill, farmers have been required to control erosion on fields that are classified as highly erodible. Each spring, NRCS conducts compliance reviews on a random selection of highly erodible fields to determine if erosion has been adequately controlled.

“Affected farmers will need to consider installing additional conservation practices to better control ephemeral gully erosion,” Flores said.

Kim Viers, acting State Executive Director of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) said a non-compliance ruling can affect benefits that farmers receive from USDA agencies in a number of ways.

“Programs such as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and FSA disaster programs all require producers to be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation requirements,” Viers said.

Flores said NRCS employees will work closely with farmers to help them meet erosion-control requirements. He added that farmers will not be expected to complete these changes immediately. If erosion control issues are identified during this spring’s compliance reviews, producers will be given time to make adjustments and install needed conservation practices. Typical practices used to control ephemeral gullies include no-till farming, cover crops, grassed waterways and terraces.

Flores said Missouri NRCS offers financial assistance to help farmers install or implement conservation practices across the state. Landowners can sign up for voluntary Farm Bill conservation programs on a continual basis.

Flores stressed the importance for farmers to meet these erosion control requirements so they will remain eligible for Farm Bill program benefits, including federal crop insurance premium subsidies. He said NRCS staff will be available to help farmers identify where ephemeral erosion is or may occur, and then assist them with applying the conservation practices that best fit their farming operations.

For more information, contact NRCS at the USDA Service Center serving your county.

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