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NMPF Comments on NRCS Conservation Practice Standards

May 4, 2021

NMPF submitted two sets of comments to USDA in April on its Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Practice Standards.

USDA-NRCS requested comments to revise the conservation practice standards in the National Handbook of Conservation Practices (NHCP). The first comments, submitted April 8 jointly with Newtrient LLC, were grounded in updating the conservation practice standards to make them more useful for dairy farmers as they work toward the 2050 US Dairy sustainability goals of being carbon neutral or better and improving water quality. The comments focused on fourteen different conservation practice standards ranging from air filtration & scrubbing (Code 371) to wastewater treatment – milk house (Code 627) with suggested improvements making them more useful for dairy farmers.

NMPF joined a coalition of seventeen organizations in a second set of comments April 15. This large coalition submitting comments to specifically address the USDA NRCS on Conservation Practice Standard on Cover Crops (Code 340).  While the coalition generally supported the revised Cover Crops standard, the coalition expressed serious concerns with the proposed change to disallow mechanical harvesting of cover crops for forage. At the core of the coalition concerns was the belief that this language will be a very serious disincentive to grower adoption of cover crops and as such will unnecessarily result in a net loss of working lands’ conservation benefits.