Officials with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are urging farmers to consider USDA compliance and program eligibility before changing their current crop rotation to include corn to take advantage of current high corn prices.

“Don't forget to check your conservation plan before making final planting decisions this spring,” said Walt Douglas, NRCS acting state conservationist for Texas. “It’s a good idea to review your conservation plan before changing a crop rotation, in order to stay eligible for USDA programs,” he said.

Conservation compliance, which began with the 1985 Farm Bill, is still in effect. Compliance means that farmers need to control erosion on highly erodible land in order to stay eligible for USDA program benefits, including farm loan programs, disaster assistance, commodity price supports, and conservation programs.

According to NRCS, the most common ways farmers get out of compliance with USDA is by dropping soil-conserving crops, such as hay, and adding a tilled crop, such as corn. This may increase soil erosion.

“Anyone who plans to participate in USDA programs now or in the future should check with NRCS before they stray too far from the crop rotation shown in their conservation plan,” Douglas said. “The local NRCS district conservationist can review a farmer’s current plan and discuss possible options.”