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SD landowners weigh in on wetlands

Wetlands have been protected from drainage since the wetland conservation compliance provisions "Swampbuster" was enacted in the 1985 farm bill.

"When producers want to drain soils on their land, they can fill out an AD-1026 form. Natural Resources Conservation Service will then begin the process for examination of the land to verify if wetlands are already listed or if an additional wetland determination is needed," said Daniel Ostrem from South Dakota State University Extension. "If a producer is not in compliance with these provisions, they can lose their farm benefits."

One of the greatest benefits that would be lost, Ostrem explained, is subsidized crop insurance.

Concerns over the backlog of wetland determinations were the basis for two recent meetings held in Aberdeen and Huron.

There is a backlog of 2,993 determinations in South Dakota. The listening session in Huron was designed to explain the new proposed off-site procedures for wetland determinations and the possibilities of wetland mitigation.

During the meeting, producers said determinations were disconnected from the soil and they would like to see more on-site work. They want to be shown the delineation boundaries in the field, or given a more detailed report.

There was discussion on the use of third party consultants to gather determination data and how that data could be used. Some attendees said producers who are willing to spend their own money to hire a private consultant should be able to use that data for the determination.

NRCS by law is tasked to be the final rule on the determinations, but is able to take consultant data into consideration.