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e-CFR data is current as of July 9, 2020

Title 7Subtitle BChapter VIISubchapter DPart 766Subpart C → §766.110


Title 7: Agriculture
PART 766—DIRECT LOAN SERVICING—SPECIAL
Subpart C—Loan Servicing Programs


§766.110   Conservation Contract.

(a) General. (1) A debtor with only SA or Non-program loans is not eligible for a Conservation Contract. However, an SA or Non-program loan may be considered for a Conservation Contract if the borrower also has program loans.

(2) A current or financially distressed borrower may request a Conservation Contract at any time prior to becoming 90 days past due.

(3) A delinquent borrower may request a Conservation Contract during the same 60-day time period in which the borrower may apply for primary loan servicing. The borrower eligibility requirements in §766.104 will apply.

(4) A Conservation Contract may be established for conservation, recreation, and wildlife purposes.

(5) The land under a Conservation Contract cannot be used for the production of agricultural commodities during the term of the contract.

(6) Only loans secured by the real estate that will be subject to the Conservation Contract may be considered for debt reduction under this section.

(b) Eligible lands. The following types of lands are eligible to be considered for a Conservation Contract by the Conservation Contract review team:

(1) Wetlands or highly erodible lands; and

(2) Uplands that meet any one of the following criteria:

(i) Land containing aquatic life, endangered species, or wildlife habitat of local, State, tribal, or national importance;

(ii) Land in 100-year floodplains;

(iii) Areas of high water quality or scenic value;

(iv) Historic or cultural properties listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places;

(v) Aquifer recharge areas of local, regional, State, or tribal importance;

(vi) Buffer areas necessary for the adequate protection of proposed Conservation Contract areas, or other areas enrolled in other conservation programs;

(vii) Areas that contain soils generally not suited for cultivation; or

(viii) Areas within or adjacent to Federal, State, tribal, or locally administered conservation areas.

(c) Unsuitable acreage. Notwithstanding paragraph (b) of this section, acreage is unsuitable for a Conservation Contract if:

(1) It is not suited or eligible for the program due to legal restrictions;

(2) It has on-site or off-site conditions that prohibit the use of the land for conservation, wildlife, or recreational purposes; or

(3) The Conservation Contract review team determines that the land is not suitable for conservation, wildlife, or recreational purposes.

(3) The Conservation Contract review team determines that the land does not provide measurable conservation, wildlife, or recreational benefits;

(4) There would be a duplication of benefits as determined by the Conservation Contract review team because the acreage is encumbered under another Federal, State, or local government program for which the borrower has been or is being compensated for conservation, wildlife, or recreation benefits;

(5) The acreage subject to the proposed Conservation Contract is encumbered under a Federal, State, or local government cost share program that is inconsistent with the purposes of the proposed Conservation Contract, or the required practices of the cost share program are not identified in the conservation management plan;

(6) The tract does not contain a legal right of way or other permanent access for the term of the contract that can be used by the Agency or its designee to carry out the contract; or

(7) The tract, including any buffer areas, to be included in a Conservation Contract is less than 10 acres.

(d) Conservation Contract terms. The borrower selects the term of the contract, which may be 10, 30, or 50 years.

(e) Conservation management plan. The Agency, with the recommendations of the Conservation Contract review team, is responsible for developing a conservation management plan. The conservation management plan will address the following:

(1) The acres of eligible land and the approximate boundaries, and

(2) A description of the conservation, wildlife, or recreation benefits to be realized.

(f) Management authority. The Agency has enforcement authority over the Conservation Contract. The Agency, however, may delegate contract management to another entity if doing so is in the Agency's best interest.

(g) Limitations. The Conservation Contract must meet the following conditions:

(1) Result in a feasible plan for current borrowers; or

(2) Result in a feasible plan with or without primary loan servicing for financially distressed or delinquent borrowers; and

(3) Improve the borrower's ability to repay the remaining balance of the loan.

(h) Maximum debt reduction for a financially distressed or current borrower. The amount of debt reduction by a Conservation Contract is calculated as follows:

(1) Divide the contract acres by the total acres that secure the borrower's FLP loans to determine the contract acres percentage.

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(2) Multiply the borrower's total unpaid FLP loan balance (principal, interest, and recoverable costs already paid by the Agency) by the percentage calculated under paragraph (h)(1) of this section to determine the amount of FLP debt that is secured by the contract acreage.

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(3) Multiply the borrower's total unpaid FLP loan balance (principal, interest, and recoverable costs already paid by the Agency) by 33 percent.

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(4) The lesser of the amounts calculated in paragraphs (h)(2) and (h)(3) of this section is the maximum amount of debt reduction for a 50-year contract.

(5) The borrower will receive 60 percent of the amount calculated in paragraph (h)(4) of this section for a 30-year contract.

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(6) The borrower will receive 20 percent of the amount calculated in paragraph (h)(4) of this section for a 10-year contract.

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(i) Maximum debt reduction for a delinquent borrower. The amount of debt reduction by a Conservation Contract is calculated as follows:

(1) Divide the contract acres by the total acres that secure the borrower's FLP loans to determine the contract acres percentage.

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(2) Multiply the borrower's total unpaid FLP loan balance (principal, interest, and recoverable costs already paid by the Agency) by the percentage calculated in paragraph (i)(1) of this section to determine the amount of FLP debt that is secured by the contract acreage.

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(3) Multiply the market value of the total acres, less contributory value of any structural improvements, that secure the borrower's FLP loans by the percent calculated in paragraph (i)(1) of this section to determine the current value of the acres in the contract.

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(4) Subtract the market value of the contract acres calculated in paragraph (i)(3) of this section from the FLP debt secured by the contract acres as calculated in paragraph (i)(2) of this section.

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(5) Select the greater of the amounts calculated in either paragraphs (i)(3) and (i)(4) of this section.

(6) The lesser of the amounts calculated in paragraphs (i)(2) and (i)(5) of this section will be the maximum amount of debt reduction for a 50-year contract term.

(7) The borrower will receive 60 percent of the amount calculated in paragraph (i)(6) of this section for a 30-year contract term.

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(8) The borrower will receive 20 percent of the amount calculated in paragraph (i)(6) of this section for a 10-year contract term.

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(j) Conservation Contract Agreement. The borrower must sign the Conservation Contract Agreement establishing the contract's terms and conditions.

(k) Transferring title to land under Conservation Contract. If the borrower or any subsequent landowner transfers title to the property, the Conservation Contract will remain in effect for the duration of the contract term.

(l) Borrower appeals of technical decisions. Borrower appeals of the Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) technical decisions made in connection with a Conservation Contract, will be handled in accordance with applicable NRCS regulations. Other aspects of the denial of a conservation contract may be appealed in accordance with 7 CFR parts 11 and 780.

(m) Subordination. For real estate with a Conservation Contract:

(1) Subordination will be required for all liens that are in a prior lien position to the Conservation Contract.

(2) The Agency will not subordinate Conservation Contracts to liens of other lenders or other Governmental entities.

(n) Breach of Conservation Contract. If the borrower or a subsequent owner of the land under the Conservation Contract fails to comply with any of its provisions, the Agency will declare the Conservation Contract breached. If the Conservation Contract is breached, the borrower or subsequent owner of the land must restore the land to be in compliance with the Conservation Contract and all terms of the conservation management plan within 90 days. If this cure is not completed, the Agency will take the following actions:

(1) For borrowers who have or had a loan in which debt was exchanged for the Conservation Contract and breach the Conservation Contract, the Agency may reinstate the debt that was cancelled, plus interest to the date of payment at the rate of interest in the promissory note, and assess liquidated damages in the amount of 25 percent of the debt cancelled, plus any actual expenses incurred by the Agency in enforcing the terms of the Conservation Contract. The borrower's account will be considered in non-monetary default; and

(2) Subsequent landowners who breach the Conservation Contract must pay the Agency the amount of the debt cancelled when the contract was executed, plus interest at the non-program interest rate to the date of payment, plus liquidated damages in the amount of 25 percent of the cancelled debt, plus any actual expenses incurred by the Agency in enforcing the terms of the Conservation Contract.

[72 FR 63316, Nov. 8, 2007, as amended at 78 FR 65532, Nov. 1, 2013]

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