After Moechnig chose the seed mixture for the pasture in Section 11, Greg Herden said he complained to Moechnig about the high amount of Alsike Clover in the mixture because the clover can create toxic hay for cattle. Moechnig does not recall Herden complaining about Alsike Clover toxicity, but does remember Herden asking for permission to plant a mix containing alfalfa. Moechnig denied permission to plant an alfalfa mix, explaining that alfalfa is hard to establish on wet soils and therefore would neither meet NRCS's environmental goals nor be a good investment for the government. The Herdens chose to comply with Moechnig's seed mixture decision because failure to do so would have resulted in losing the federal funding under EQIP.
The Majority reasoned that, "On one hand, the Herdens believed a seed mixture containing alfalfa would have better advanced the statutory goal of agricultural production, as well as one of Code 512's stated purposes of improving or maintaining livestock nutrition and/or health. On the other hand, Moechnig believed a seed mixture containing Alsike Clover would better advance the statutory goal of environmental quality, and at least one of Code 512's stated purposes of reducing soil erosion by wind and/or water. The fact that Moechnig was required to balance those competing interests in order 'to optimize environmental benefits,' 16 U.S.C. § 3839aa, clearly demonstrates the decision he ultimately made was susceptible to policy analysis and thus the type of decision Congress meant to shield from judicial second-guessing. A federal employee implementing EQIP at the local, operational level must have the discretion to balance environmental protection and cattle production in order for the program to be worth the government's significant investment. . . Moechnig's job required him to balance protecting the environment with providing nutritious cattle forage, while at the same time being cognizant of the cost to the Herdens and the federal government. We therefore conclude this case involves the type of discretionary decision Congress meant to shield from judicial second-guessing."