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e-CFR data is current as of October 29, 2020

Title 7Subtitle BChapter VISubchapter BPart 610 → Subpart C


Title 7: Agriculture
PART 610—TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE


Subpart C—State Technical Committees


Contents
§610.21   Purpose and scope.
§610.22   State Technical Committee membership.
§610.23   State Technical Committee meetings.
§610.24   Responsibilities of State Technical Committees.
§610.25   Subcommittees and Local Working Groups.

Source: 74 FR 66912, Dec. 17, 2009, unless otherwise noted.

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§610.21   Purpose and scope.

This subpart sets forth the procedures for establishing and using the advice of State Technical Committees. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will establish in each State a Technical Committee to assist in making recommendations relating to the implementation and technical aspects of natural resource conservation activities and programs. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) will use State Technical Committees in an advisory capacity in the administration of certain conservation programs and initiatives. Pursuant to 16 U.S.C. 3862(d), these State Technical Committees and Local Working Groups are exempt from the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App. 2).

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§610.22   State Technical Committee membership.

(a) State Technical Committees will include agricultural producers, nonindustrial private forest land owners, and other professionals who represent a variety of disciplines in soil, water, wetlands, plant, and wildlife sciences. The State Conservationist in each State will serve as chairperson. The State Technical Committee for each State will include representatives from among the following, if willing to serve:

(1) NRCS, USDA;

(2) Farm Service Agency, USDA;

(3) State Farm Service Agency Committee, USDA;

(4) Forest Service, USDA;

(5) National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA;

(6) Each of the Federally recognized Indian Tribes in the State;

(7) State departments and agencies within the State, including the:

(i) Fish and wildlife agency;

(ii) Forestry agency;

(iii) Water resources agency;

(iv) Department of agriculture;

(v) Association of soil and water conservation districts; and

(vi) Soil and water conservation agency;

(8) Agricultural producers representing the variety of crops and livestock or poultry raised within the State;

(9) Owners of nonindustrial private forest land;

(10) Nonprofit organizations, within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, with demonstrable conservation expertise and experience working with agriculture producers in the State;

(11) Agribusiness; and

(12) The State Cooperative Extension Service and land grant universities in the State.

(b) The State Conservationist will invite other relevant Federal, State, and regional agencies, organizations, and persons knowledgeable about economic and environmental impacts of natural resource conservation techniques and programs to participate as needed.

(c) To ensure that recommendations of State Technical Committees take into account the needs of the diverse groups served by USDA, membership will include, to the extent practicable, individuals with demonstrated ability to represent the conservation and related technical concerns of particular historically underserved groups and individuals; i.e., minorities, women, persons with disabilities, socially and economically disadvantaged groups, and beginning farmers and ranchers.

(d) In accordance with the guidelines in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of this section, it is the responsibility of the State Conservationist to seek a balanced representation of interests among the membership on the State Technical Committee. Individuals or groups wanting to participate on a State Technical Committee within a specific State may submit a request to the State Conservationist that explains their interest and outlines their credentials which they believe are relevant to becoming a member. Decisions regarding membership are at the discretion of the State Conservationist. State Conservationist decisions on membership are final and not appealable to any other individual or group within USDA.

[74 FR 66912, Dec. 17, 2009, as amended at 84 FR 19702, May 6, 2019]

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§610.23   State Technical Committee meetings.

(a) The State Conservationist, as Chairperson, schedules and conducts the meetings, although a meeting may be requested by any USDA agency or State Technical Committee member.

(b) NRCS will establish and maintain national standard operating procedures governing the operation of State Technical Committees and Local Working Groups in its directive system. The standard operating procedures will outline items such as: The best practice approach to establishing, organizing, and effectively utilizing State Technical Committees and Local Working Groups; direction on publication of State Technical Committee and Local Working Group meeting notices and agendas; State Technical Committee meeting summaries; how to provide feedback on State Conservationist decisions regarding State Technical Committee recommendations; and other items as determined by the Chief.

(c) In addition to the standard operating procedures established under paragraph (b) of this section, the State Conservationist will provide public notice and allow public attendance at State Technical Committee and Local Working Group meetings. The State Conservationist will publish a meeting notice no later than 14 calendar days prior to a State Technical Committee meeting. Notification may exceed this 14-day minimum where State open meeting laws exist and provide for a longer notification period. This minimum 14-day notice requirement may be waived in the case of exceptional conditions, as determined by the State Conservationist. The State Conservationist will publish this notice in at least one or more newspaper(s), including recommended Tribal publications, to attain statewide circulation.

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§610.24   Responsibilities of State Technical Committees.

(a) Each State Technical Committee established under this subpart will meet on a regular basis, as determined by the State Conservationist, to provide information, analysis, and recommendations to appropriate officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) who are charged with implementing and establishing priorities and criteria for natural resources conservation activities and programs under Title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 including, but not limited to, the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, Conservation Reserve Program, Conservation Security Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Innovation Grants, Conservation of Private Grazing Land, Grassroots Source Water Protection Program, the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The members of the State Technical Committee may also provide input on other natural resource conservation programs and issues as may be requested by NRCS or other USDA agency heads at the State level as long as they are within the programs authorized by Title XII. Such recommendations may include, but are not limited to, recommendations on:

(1) The criteria to be used in prioritizing program applications;

(2) The State-specific application criteria;

(3) Priority natural resource concerns in the State;

(4) Emerging natural resource concerns and program needs; and

(5) Conservation practice standards and specifications.

(b) The role of the State Technical Committee is advisory in nature, and the committee will have no implementation or enforcement authority. The implementing agency reserves the authority to accept or reject the committee's recommendations. However, the implementing USDA agency will give strong consideration to the State Technical Committee's recommendations.

(c) State Technical Committees will review whether Local Working Groups are addressing State priorities.

[74 FR 66912, Dec. 17, 2009, as amended at 79 FR 44639, Aug. 1, 2014]

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§610.25   Subcommittees and Local Working Groups.

(a) Subcommittees. In some situations, specialized subcommittees, made up of State Technical Committee members, may be needed to analyze and examine specific issues. The State Conservationist may assemble certain members, including members of Local Working Groups and other knowledgeable individuals, to discuss, examine, and focus on a particular technical or programmatic topic. The subcommittee may seek public participation, but it is not required to do so. Nevertheless, recommendations resulting from these subcommittee sessions, other than sessions of Local Working Groups, will be made only in a general session of the State Technical Committee where the public is notified and invited to attend. Decisions resulting from recommendations of Local Working Groups will be communicated to NRCS in accordance with the standard operating procedures described in §610.23(b).

(b) Local Working Groups. (1) Local Working Groups will be composed of conservation district officials, agricultural producers representing the variety of crops and livestock or poultry raised within the local area, nonindustrial private forest land owners, and other professionals representing relevant agricultural and conservation interests and a variety of disciplines in the soil, water, plant, wetland, and wildlife sciences who are familiar with private land agricultural and natural resource issues in the local community;

(2) Local Working Groups will provide recommendations on local natural resource priorities and criteria for conservation activities and programs; and

(3) Local Working Groups will follow the standard operating procedures described in §610.23(b).

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