Almost with all USDA/FSA programs, farmers agree to abide by the requirements of the “Swampbuster Act” and the “Sodbuster Act”. Failure to do so can lead to a farmer being ineligible for all USDA/FSA programs. This can be in the form of a Wetland Violation or a Planting Violation.
The Swampbuster Act stems from The Food Security Act of 1985, as amended, that requires any person receiving USDA benefits must comply with wetland conservation provisions of the Act. To maintain eligibility participants must certify that they have not produced crops on a converted wetlands after December 23, 1985, and did not convert a wetland after November 28, 1990, to make agricultural production possible.
If Swampbuster is violated, USDA farm program benefits may be lost. If participants produce a crop on a converted wetland, they may lose benefits for that year. If participants convert a wetland after November 28, 1990, they risk loss of benefits for the year the conversion took place, and for the years that follow until the wetland’s functions and values are restored.
However, the law offers several exemptions to producers. Some of these are a Good Faith Exemption, Commenced Conversion, Third Party Exemption, and Minimal Effect Exemption. If a producer qualifies for an exemption, then the producer can have penalties erased or reduced, as well as regain eligibility. So, a violation does not necessarily mean a producer will be deemed ineligible.
John Schwarz has successfully represented farmers cited for wetland violations. You should not attempt to try and represent yourself in these matters as the stakes are generally very high for a producer. Rather, you will need a professional, and should call “the wetland man”, John Schwarz.