From the Star Democrat –
CORDOVA, MD — After a 15-month struggle, a group of local farmers recently got relief from owing almost $1 million to a federal agency that wanted payback for conservation contracts.
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., applauded the decision from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Appeal Division that granted equitable relief and reinstated the Conservation Security Program (CSP) contract for the farmers. Referred to in case documents as the Hutchison brothers, the group also includes Sonny Eaton and Mike Elben.
The latest ruling ends the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) efforts to make the farmers pay back about $350,000 each for three farms that received federal conservation funding over six years.
“The NAD’s decision in the Hutchison Brothers’ case is a just decision granting a well deserved reprieve to a group of Maryland farmers who just want to do the right thing to preserve the resources on their farms and protect the Bay,” Cardin said.
Cardin wrote to the appeals division early this year, and urged it to provide the relief. The decision ends a struggle that started in 2006 when the Hutchison brothers and several other farmers entered into CSP contracts with the NRCS.