The South Dakota Farm Bureau (SDFB) met in late January with the state’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) State Technical Committee subcommittee on wetland mitigation. This meeting was the next step forward in SDFB’s effort to create the state’s first-ever agricultural wetland mitigation banking system, funded by a $75,000 grant Farm Bureau was awarded from the NRCS last fall.

Several stakeholder groups joined Farm Bureau at the meeting, including: SD Soybean Association and SD Corn Growers, Izaak Walton League, Ducks Unlimited, Beadle County Conservation District, Eco-Asset Management, and SD NRCS.

At the meeting, Farm Bureau presented the plan it has developed with Eco-Asset Management LLC, its contract partner on the wetland mitigation banking project.

“At this meeting, we presented a draft including the program structure of the proposed bank,” said Wayne Smith, SDFB Executive Director and farmer from Moody County, S.D.  “This included details on the process of mitigation, bank site requirements, the transaction process, bank service areas, and the technical details about the wetland exchange requirements, including monitoring and long-term management.”

Experts from Eco-Asset fielded questions from NRCS, the Izaak Walton
League, Ducks Unlimited, and other interested parties.

“Mitigation is an important part of protecting the wetland resources,” Smith commented. “This will give farmers and ranchers an opportunity to replace a degraded wetland in a continuously cropped field with well-functioning wetlands that will be

South Dakota Farm Bureau and its industry partners are working diligently to create a system that will be user-friendly for farmers, while creating better-functioning wetlands overall. The wetland mitigation banking system is expected to be in place by August 31, 2015.

“This is a great opportunity for agriculture, conservation and wildlife groups, as well as South Dakota NRCS to work together to protect the environment while allowing the best land to produce food to feed a growing population,” Smith added.