NB_180_19_7 - NB-180-19-7 CPA – Handling HEL Compliance Deficiencies, Exemptions, and Variances
NB-180-19-7 CPA – Handling HEL Compliance Deficiencies, Exemptions, and Variances
National Bulletin: 180-19-7    Date:      April 18, 2019
Subject: CPA – Handling HEL Compliance Deficiencies, Exemptions, and Variances 

Purpose.  This bulletin announces the release of Circular 180-19-2, which provides clarification and instruction for highly erodible land conservation (HELC) planning and conducting HELC status reviews according to policy in Title 180, National Food Security Act Manual (NFSAM), Fifth Edition.     
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2019   
Background.   Circular 180-17-1 reaffirmed the requirement for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program participants to control ephemeral gully erosion on highly erodible land (HEL) to be eligible for most USDA program benefits in response to the Office of Inspector General audit report 50601-0005-31 “USDA Monitoring of Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Violations.” Following that policy clarification, concerns were raised with the details of the policies regarding the control of ephemeral gully erosion on HEL. The following issues were identified as needing clarification to national guidance:

• The lack of policy to handle situations where an ephemeral gully is caused by offsite
conditions, or actions by others, and not caused by a person’s normal farming activities.
• The need for specific guidance regarding abnormal precipitation events as a potential cause of noncompliance due to ephemeral gully occurrence on HEL.
• The lack of information regarding a person’s ability to pursue an economic hardship variance with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) when a person has indicated that applying a conservation system according to the HELC requirements would impose an undue economic hardship on their operation (7CFR Section 12.23(a)).

In response to these concerns, clarifications and additions to the NFSAM are specifically defined in the policy section of circular 180-19-2         
Explanation.   This circular is to be printed in hardcopy and retained in local files until such time as 180-NFSAM is updated to include this information.     
Contact.   Questions about this content can be directed to Jason Outlaw, National Leader for Wetland and Highly Erodible Land Conservation, Ecological Sciences Division, at (202) 720-7838 or jason.outlaw@wdc.usda.gov.     


 Diane Gelburd   
 Acting Deputy Chief for Science and Technology   


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