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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR Data is current as of September 15, 2014

Title 7Subtitle BChapter XIVSubchapter BPart 1465 → Subpart B


Title 7: Agriculture
PART 1465—AGRICULTURAL MANAGEMENT ASSISTANCE


Subpart B—Contracts


Contents
§1465.20   Applications for participation and selecting applications for contracting.
§1465.21   Contract requirements.
§1465.22   Conservation practice operation and maintenance.
§1465.23   Payments.
§1465.24   Contract modifications, extensions, and transfers of land.
§1465.25   Contract violations and termination.

§1465.20   Applications for participation and selecting applications for contracting.

(a) Any producer who has eligible land may submit an application for participation in AMA at a USDA service center. Producers who are members of a joint operation will file a single application for the joint operation.

(b) NRCS will accept applications throughout the year. The State Conservationist will distribute information on the availability of assistance, national priorities, and the State-specific goals. Information will be provided that explains the process to request assistance.

(c) The State Conservationist will develop ranking criteria and a ranking process to select applications, taking into account national, State, Tribal, and local priorities.

(d) The State Conservationist, or designated conservationist, using a locally-led process will evaluate, rank, and select applications for contracting based on the State-developed ranking criteria and ranking process.

(e) The State Conservationist, or designated conservationist, will work with the applicant to collect the information necessary to evaluate the application using the ranking criteria.

§1465.21   Contract requirements.

(a) In order for a participant to receive payments, the participant will enter into a contract agreeing to implement one or more eligible conservation practices. Costs for technical services may be included in the contract.

(b) An AMA contract will:

(1) Encompass all portions of an agricultural operation receiving AMA assistance;

(2) Be for a duration of not more than 10 years;

(3) Incorporate all provisions required by law or statute, including participant requirements to:

(i) Not conduct any practices on the agricultural operation that would tend to defeat the purposes of the contract according to §1465.25;

(ii) Refund any AMA payments received with interest, and forfeit any future payments under AMA, on the violation of a term or condition of the contract, consistent with the provisions of §1465.25;

(iii) Refund all AMA payments received on the transfer of the right and interest of the producer in land subject to the contract, unless the transferee of the right and interest agrees to assume all obligations, including operation and maintenance of the AMA contract's conservation practices, consistent with the provisions of §1465.24; and

(iv) Supply information as required by NRCS to determine compliance with the contract and requirements of AMA.

(4) Specify the participant's requirements for operation and maintenance of the applied conservation practices consistent with the provisions of §1465.22; and

(5) Specify any other provision determined necessary or appropriate by NRCS.

(c) The participant must apply the practice(s) according to the schedule set out in the APO.

[74 FR 64595, Dec. 8, 2009, as amended at 79 FR 44641, Aug.1, 2014]

§1465.22   Conservation practice operation and maintenance.

(a) The contract will incorporate the O&M agreement that addresses the operation and maintenance of the conservation practices applied under the contract.

(b) NRCS expects the participant to operate and maintain each conservation practice installed under the contract for its intended purpose for the conservation practice lifespan as specified in the O&M agreement.

(c) NRCS may periodically inspect the conservation practice(s) during the contract duration to ensure that operation and maintenance requirements are being carried out, and that the conservation practice is fulfilling its intended objectives.

(d) Conservation practices installed before the contract execution, but included in the contract to obtain the environmental benefits agreed upon, must be operated and maintained as specified in the contract and O&M agreement.

(e) If NRCS finds during the contract that a participant is not operating and maintaining practices in an appropriate manner, NRCS may terminate and request a refund of payments made for that conservation practice under the contract.

(f) In the event a conservation practice fails through no fault of the participant, the State Conservationist may issue payments to re-establish the conservation practice, at the rates established in accordance with §1465.23, provided such payments do not exceed the payment limitation requirements as set forth in §1465.23.

§1465.23   Payments.

(a) The Federal share of payments to a participant will be:

(1) Up to 75 percent of the estimated incurred cost or 100 percent of the estimated income foregone of an eligible practice, except as provided in (a)(2) of this section.

(2) In the case of historically underserved producers, the payment rate will be the applicable rate and an additional rate that is not less than 25 percent above the applicable rate, provided that this increase does not exceed 90 percent of the estimated incurred costs or estimated income foregone.

(3) In no instance will the total financial contributions for an eligible practice from other sources exceed 100 percent of the estimated incurred cost of the practice.

(b) Participants may contribute their portion of the estimated costs of practices through in-kind contributions, including labor and materials, providing the materials contributed meet the NRCS standard and specifications for the practice being installed.

(c) Payments for practices applied prior to application or contract approval—

(1) Payments will not be made to a participant for a conservation practice that was applied prior to application for the program.

(2) Payments will not be made to a participant for a conservation practice that was initiated or implemented prior to contract approval, unless the participant obtained a waiver from the State Conservationist, or designated conservationist, prior to practice implementation.

(d) The total amount of payments paid to a person or legal entity under this part may not exceed $50,000 for any fiscal year.

(e) For purposes of applying the payment limitations provided for in this section, NRCS will use the provisions in 7 CFR part 1400, Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility.

(f) A participant will not be eligible for payments for conservation practices on eligible land if the participant receives payments or other benefits for the same practice on the same land under any other conservation program administered by USDA.

(g) The participant and NRCS must certify that a conservation practice is completed in accordance with the contract before NRCS will approve any payment.

(h) Subject to fund availability, the payment rates for conservation practices scheduled after the year of contract obligation may be adjusted to reflect increased costs.

§1465.24   Contract modifications, extensions, and transfers of land.

(a) The participant and NRCS may modify a contract if both parties agree to the contract modification, the APO is revised in accordance with NRCS requirements, and the designated conservationist approves the modified contract.

(b) It is the participant's responsibility to notify NRCS when he or she either anticipates the voluntary or involuntary loss of control of the land.

(c) The participant and NRCS may mutually agree to transfer a contract to another party.

(1) To receive an AMA payment, the transferee must be determined by NRCS to be eligible to participate in AMA and will assume full responsibility under the contract, including the O&M agreement for those conservation practices already installed and those conservation practices to be installed as a condition of the contract.

(2) With respect to any and all payment owed to participants who wish to transfer ownership or control of land subject to a contract, the division of payment will be determined by the original party and the party's successor. In the event of a dispute or claim on the distribution of payments, NRCS may withhold payments without the accrual of interest pending a settlement or adjudication on the rights to the funds.

(d) NRCS may require a participant to refund all or a portion of any assistance earned under AMA if the participant sells or loses control of the land under an AMA contract, and the successor in interest is not eligible or refuses to accept future payments to participate in the AMA or refuses to assume responsibility under the contract.

(e) The contract participants will be jointly and severally responsible for refunding the payments with applicable interest pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section.

§1465.25   Contract violations and termination.

(a) If NRCS determines that a participant is in violation of the terms of a contract, O&M agreement, or other documents incorporated into the contract, NRCS will give the participant notice and 60 days, unless otherwise determined by the State Conservationist, to correct the violation and comply with the terms of the contract and attachments thereto. If a participant continues in violation, the State Conservationist may terminate the AMA contract.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of (a) of this section, a contract termination will be effective immediately upon a determination by the State Conservationist that the participant has submitted false information or filed a false claim, or engaged in any act, scheme, or device for which a finding of ineligibility for payments is permitted under the provisions of §1465.35, or in a case in which the actions of the party involved are deemed to be sufficiently purposeful or negligent to warrant a termination without delay.

(c) If NRCS terminates a contract, the participant will forfeit all rights to future payments under the contract and refund all or part of the payments received, plus interest. Participants violating AMA contracts may be determined ineligible for future NRCS-administered conservation program funding.

(1) The State Conservationist may require only a partial refund of the payments received if the State Conservationist determines that a previously installed conservation practice can function independently and is not affected by the violation or the absence of other conservation practices that would have been installed under the contract.

(2) If NRCS terminates a contract due to breach of contract, or the participant voluntarily terminates the contract before any contractual payments have been made, the participant will forfeit all rights for further payments under the contract and will pay such liquidated damages as prescribed in the contract. The State Conservationist will have the option to waive the liquidated damages depending upon the circumstances of the case.

(i) When making all contract termination decisions, NRCS may reduce the amount of money owed by the participant by a proportion that reflects the good faith effort of the participant to comply with the contract or the existence of hardships beyond the participant's control that have prevented compliance with the contract. If the participant claims hardship, that claim must be well documented and cannot have existed when the applicant applied for participation in the program.

(ii) The participant may voluntarily terminate a contract if NRCS agrees based on NRCS' determination that termination is in the public interest.

(iii) In carrying out NRCS' role in this section, NRCS may consult with the local conservation district.



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