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USDA Announces $5 Million in Wetland Mitigation Banking Program Funds

Clint Thompson Alabama, Florida, Georgia

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the availability of up to $5 million for wetland mitigation banks. This funding, through the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program, is available to help conservation partners develop or establish mitigation banks to help agricultural producers maintain eligibility for USDA programs.

“Wetlands are critically important to the health of our natural resources — filtering water, reducing soil loss and providing habitat to our nation’s wildlife while also helping to sequester carbon from the atmosphere,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “Through the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program, we’re working with experienced wetland mitigation partners to give farmers another option to meet Farm Bill requirements.”

Wetland mitigation banking is the restoration, creation or enhancement of wetlands to compensate for unavoidable impacts on wetlands at other locations. The Farm Bill’s wetland conservation provisions, commonly called Swampbuster provisions, aim to remove certain incentives to convert wetlands or to produce agricultural commodities on converted wetlands.

Producers seeking benefits through most USDA programs must comply with wetland conservation provisions by affirming they will not impact wetlands on their lands. In situations where avoidance or on-site mitigation is challenging, the Farm Bill allows for off-site mitigation through the purchase of mitigation banking credits.

This competitive grants program helps states, local governments and other qualified partners develop wetland mitigation banks to restore, create or enhance wetland ecosystems. NRCS is accepting proposals from eligible Indian Tribes, state and local units of government, for-profit entities and nongovernmental organizations.

Applications must be submitted through grants.gov by July 6, 2020. For more information on wetland mitigation banking, visit the NRCS website.