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Title 7Subtitle BChapter VIISubchapter BPart 718 → Subpart D


Title 7: Agriculture
PART 718—PROVISIONS APPLICABLE TO MULTIPLE PROGRAMS


Subpart D—Equitable Relief From Ineligibility


Contents
§718.301   Applicability.
§718.302   Definitions and abbreviations.
§718.303   Reliance on incorrect actions or information.
§718.304   Failure to fully comply.
§718.305   Forms of relief.
§718.306   Finality.
§718.307   Special relief approval authority for State Executive Directors.

Source: 67 FR 66307, Oct. 31, 2002, unless otherwise noted.

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§718.301   Applicability.

(a) This subpart is applicable to programs administered by the Farm Service Agency under chapters VII and XIV of this title, except for an agricultural credit program carried out under the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (7 U.S.C. 1921 et seq.), as amended. Administration of this subpart shall be under the supervision of the Deputy Administrator, except that such authority shall not limit the exercise of authority allowed State Executive Directors of the Farm Service agency as provided for in §718.307.

(b) Section 718.306 does not apply to a function performed under either section 376 of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (7 U.S.C. 1921 et seq.), or a conservation program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.

(c) The relief provisions of this part cannot be used to extend a benefit or assistance not otherwise available under law or not otherwise available to others who have satisfied or complied with every eligibility or compliance requirement of the provisions of law or regulations governing the program benefit or assistance.

[67 FR 66307, Oct. 31, 2002, as amended at 80 FR 41998, July 16, 2015]

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§718.302   Definitions and abbreviations.

In addition to the definitions provided in §718.2 of this part, the following terms apply to this subpart:

Covered program means a program specified in §718.301 of this subpart.

FSA means the Farm Service Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture.

OGC means the Office of the General Counsel of the United States Department of Agriculture.

SED means, for activities within a particular state, the State Executive Director of the United States Department of Agriculture, FSA, for that state.

[67 FR 66307, Oct. 31, 2002, as amended at 80 FR 41998, July 16, 2015]

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§718.303   Reliance on incorrect actions or information.

(a) Notwithstanding any other law, if an action or inaction by a participant is based upon good faith reliance on the action or advice of an authorized representative of an FSA county or State committee, and that action or inaction results in the participant's noncompliance with the requirements of a covered program that is to the detriment of the participant, then that action or inaction still may be approved by the Deputy Administrator as meeting the requirements of the covered program, and benefits may be extended or payments made in as specified in §718.305.

(b) This section applies only to a participant who:

(1) Relied in good faith upon the action of, or information provided by, an FSA county or State committee or an authorized representative of such committee regarding a covered program;

(2) Acted, or failed to act, as a result of the FSA action or information; and

(3) Was determined to be not in compliance with the requirements of that covered program.

(c) This section does not apply to cases where the participant had sufficient reason to know that the action or information upon which they relied was improper or erroneous or where the participant acted in reliance on their own misunderstanding or misinterpretation of program provisions, notices or information.

[80 FR 41998, July 16, 2015]

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§718.304   Failure to fully comply.

(a) When the failure of a participant to fully comply with the terms and conditions of a covered program precludes the providing of payments or benefits, relief may be authorized as specified in §718.305 if the participant made a good faith effort to comply fully with the requirements of the covered program.

(b) This section only applies to participants who are determined by FSA to have made a good faith effort to comply fully with the terms and conditions of the covered program and have performed substantial actions required for program eligibility.

[80 FR 41998, July 16, 2015]

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§718.305   Forms of relief.

(a) The Administrator of FSA, Executive Vice President of CCC, or their designee, may authorize a participant in a covered program to:

(1) Retain loans, payments, or other benefits received under the covered program;

(2) Continue to receive loans, payments, and other benefits under the covered program;

(3) Continue to participate, in whole or in part, under any contract executed under the covered program;

(4) In the case of a conservation program, re-enroll all or part of the land covered by the program; and

(5) Receive such other equitable relief as determined to be appropriate.

(b) As a condition of receiving relief under this subpart, the participant may be required to remedy their failure to meet the program requirement, or mitigate its affects.

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§718.306   Finality.

(a) A determination by an FSA State or county committee (or employee of such committee) becomes final on an application for benefits and binding 90 days from the date the application for benefits has been filed, and supporting documentation required to be supplied by the producer as a condition for eligibility for the particular program has been filed, unless any of the following exceptions exist:

(1) The participant has requested an administrative review of the determination in accordance with part 780 of this chapter;

(2) The determination was in any way based on erroneous, innocent, or purposeful misrepresentation; false statement; fraud; or willful misconduct by or on behalf of the participant;

(3) The determination was modified by the Administrator, FSA, or in the case of CCC programs conducted under Chapter XIV of this title, the Executive Vice President, CCC; or

(4) The participant knew or had reason to know that the determination was erroneous.

(b) Should an erroneous determination become final under the provisions of this section, the erroneous decision will be corrected according to paragraph (c) of this section.

(1) If, as a result of the erroneous decision, payment was issued, no action will be taken by FSA, CCC, or a State or county committee to recover unearned payment amounts unless one or more of the exceptions in paragraph (a) of this section applies;

(2) If payment was not issued before the error was discovered, the payment will not be issued. FSA and CCC are under no obligation to issue payments or render decisions that are contrary to law or regulation.

(c) FSA and CCC will modify and correct determinations when errors are discovered. As specified in paragraph (b) of this section, FSA or CCC may be precluded from recovering unearned payments that issued as a result of the erroneous decision. FSA or CCC's inability to recover or demand refunds of unearned amounts as specified in paragraph (b) will only be effective through the year in which the error was found and communicated to the participant.

[67 FR 66307, Oct. 31, 2002, as amended at 80 FR 41998, July 16, 2015]

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§718.307   Special relief approval authority for State Executive Directors.

(a) General nature of the special authority. Notwithstanding provisions in this subpart providing supervision and relief authority to other officials, an SED, after consultation with and approval from OGC but without further review by other officials (other than the Secretary) may grant relief to a participant under the provisions of §§718.303 through 718.305 as if the SED were the final arbiter within the agency of such matters so long as:

(1) The program matter with respect to which the relief is sought is a program matter in a covered program which is operated within the State under the control of the SED;

(2) The total amount of relief which will be provided to the participant (that is, to the individual or entity that applies for the relief) by that SED under this special authority for errors during that year is less than $20,000 (including in that calculation, any loan amount or other benefit of any kind payable for that year and any other year);

(3) The total amount of such relief which has been previously provided to the participant using this special authority for errors, as calculated above, is not more than $5,000;

(4) The total amount of loans, payments, and benefits of any kind for which relief is provided to similarly situated participants by an SED for errors for any year under the authority provided in this section, as calculated above, is not more than $1,000,000.

(b) Report of the exercise of the power. A grant of relief shall be considered to be under this section and subject to the special finality provided in this section only if the SED grants the relief in writing when granting the relief to the party who will receive the benefit of such relief and only if, in that document, the SED declares that they are exercising that power. The SED must report the exercise of that power to the Deputy Administrator so that a full accounting may be made in keeping with the limitations of this section. Absent such a report, relief will not be considered to have been made under this section.

(c) Additional limits on the authority. The authority provided under this section does not extend to:

(1) The administration of payment limitations under part 1400 of this chapter (§§1001 to 1001F of 7 U.S.C. 1308 et seq.);

(2) The administration of payment limitations under a conservation program administered by the Secretary; or

(3) Highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements under subtitles B or C of Title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3811 et seq.) as administered under 7 CFR part 12.

(d) Relief may not be provided by the SED under this section until a written opinion or written acknowledgment is obtained from OGC that grounds exist for determination that requirements for granting relief under §718.303 or §718.304 have been met, that the form of relief is authorized under §718.305, and that the granting of the relief is within the lawful authority of the SED.

(e) Relation to other authorities. The authority provided under this section is in addition to any other applicable authority that may allow relief.

[67 FR 66307, Oct. 31, 2002, as amended at 80 FR 41998, July 16, 2015]

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