AFBF: USDA Must End NRCS Abuses
Source: American Farm Bureau Federation
via Hoosier Ag Today - Sep 18, 2019
Farmers and ranchers are being denied due process as part of an abuse of discretion by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, according to a scathing ruling by the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The ruling is highlighted in a letter from the American Farm Bureau Federation calling on Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to enact much-needed reforms in the agency.
The letter focuses on the case of an Indiana farm owned by David and Rita Boucher, and Mrs. Boucher’s 17-year saga of unfair treatment at the hands of the NRCS staff. The Bouchers removed nine trees on 2.8 acres and NRCS, in turn, demanded they plant 300 trees per acre as compensation.
The court found that NRCS wrongly accused the Bouchers of harming a non-existent wetland on their property but made no effort to correct the record even after the accusations were shown to be groundless. The NRCS judgment made the farm ineligible for a wide variety of government programs, creating a roadblock for the Bouchers to obtain the loans and crop insurance necessary to stay in operation.
“The USDA repeatedly failed to follow applicable law and agency standards,” the court wrote. “It disregarded compelling evidence showing that the acreage in question never qualified as wetlands that could have been converted illegally into croplands. And the agency has kept shifting its explanations for treating the acreage as converted wetlands. The USDA’s treatment of the Bouchers’ acreage as converted wetlands easily qualifies as arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.”
The Bouchers are not the only victims of NRCS regulatory abuse, as noted in the letter and as previously conveyed to USDA by AFBF...
Additionally, AFBF is asking USDA to...