Hoeven Helps Introduce Legislation to Protect Private Property Owners from Government Overreach

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven joined Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) in introducing the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Wetland Compliance and Appeals Reform Act. This legislation would protect private property rights and would safeguard farmers, ranchers and landowners from the bureaucracy of the NRCS and empower them to make the best decisions for their land.

“North Dakota farmers and ranchers take care of their land better than anyone else,” said Hoeven. “This legislation is about ensuring USDA NRCS policies are farmer-friendly and respect property rights. As we get to work on the next farm bill, we will continue to prioritize efforts to reduce bureaucratic overreach and red tape for landowners.”

“South Dakota’s farmers, ranchers and landowners know their land better than anyone else,” said Rounds. “They are conservationists by nature and want their land to be productive for future generations. They don’t need the heavy-hand of government interfering with their ability to manage the land they live and work on.”

“In North and South Dakota, we are all too familiar with the punitive enforcement of conservation compliance and farmers and private property rights rarely come out on top,” said Cramer. “Our bill provides much-needed reforms for the Natural Resources Conservation Service wetland determinations. It creates a more thorough appeals process, prohibits bureaucrats from being retroactively punitive, and rightly places the burden of proof on the government as opposed to the landowner. I thank Senator Rounds for his leadership and look forward to working with him on these reforms.”

Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Prohibit NRCS from entering into permanent easement agreements, only allowing termed easements.
  • Prevent certain compliance penalties for newly determined wetlands from being imposed retroactively.
  • Place the burden of proof on NRCS, rather than the landowner, to prove a violation.
  • Require NRCS to go through notice and comment rulemaking for conservation compliance regulations, blocking the practice of interim rulemaking.
  • Update and reform NRCS’ appeals process to ensure fair treatment of farmers and landowners.

Click here for the full bill text.