In return for a contract entered into by an owner or operator under the conservation reserve program, the Secretary shall—
(1)share the cost of carrying out the conservation measures and practices set forth in the contract for which the Secretary determines that cost sharing is appropriate and in the public interest; and
(2)for a period of years not in excess of the term of the contract, pay an annual rental payment in an amount necessary to compensate for—
(A)the conversion of highly erodible cropland or other eligible lands normally devoted to the production of an agricultural commodity on a farm or ranch to a less intensive use;
(B)the retirement of any base history that the owner or operator agrees to retire permanently; and
(C)the development and management of grasslands for multiple natural resource conservation benefits, including to soil, water, air, and wildlife.
(b) Specified activities permitted
The Secretary shall permit certain activities or commercial uses of land that is subject to a contract under the conservation reserve program if those activities or uses are consistent with a plan approved by the Secretary and include—
(1)harvesting, grazing, or other commercial use of the forage in response to a drought, flooding, or other emergency, without any reduction in the rental rate;
(2)consistent with the conservation of soil, water quality, and wildlife habitat (including habitat during primary nesting seasons for birds in the area), and in exchange for a reduction of not less than 25 percent in the annual rental rate for the acres covered by the authorized activity, managed harvesting and other commercial use (including the managed harvesting of biomass), except that in permitting those activities, the Secretary, in coordination with the State technical committee—
(A)shall develop appropriate vegetation management requirements; and
(B)shall identify periods during which the activities may be conducted, such that the frequency is at least every 5 but not more than once every 3 years;
(3)subject to appropriate restrictions during the nesting season for birds in the local area that are economically significant, in significant decline, or conserved in accordance with Federal or State law, as determined by the Secretary in consultation with the State technical committee, and in exchange for a reduction of not less than 25 percent in the annual rental rate for the acres covered by the authorized activity—
(A)prescribed grazing for the control of invasive species, which may be conducted annually;
(B)routine grazing, except that in permitting such routine grazing, the Secretary, in coordination with the State technical committee—
(i)shall develop appropriate vegetation management requirements and stocking rates for the land that are suitable for continued routine grazing; and
(ii)shall identify the periods during which routine grazing may be conducted, such that the frequency is not more than once every 2 years, taking into consideration regional differences such as—
(I)climate, soil type, and natural resources;
(II)the number of years that should be required between routine grazing activities; and
(III)how often during a year in which routine grazing is permitted that routine grazing should be allowed to occur; and
(C)the installation of wind turbines and associated access, except that in permitting the installation of wind turbines, the Secretary shall determine the number and location of wind turbines that may be installed, taking into account—
(i)the location, size, and other physical characteristics of the land;
(ii)the extent to which the land contains threatened or endangered wildlife and wildlife habitat; and
(iii)the purposes of the conservation reserve program under this subpart;
(4)the intermittent and seasonal use of vegetative buffer practices incidental to agricultural production on lands adjacent to the buffer such that the permitted use does not destroy the permanent vegetative cover; and
(5)grazing by livestock of a beginning farmer or rancher without any reduction in the rental rate, if the grazing is—
(A)consistent with the conservation of soil, water quality, and wildlife habitat;
(B)subject to appropriate restrictions during the nesting season for birds in the local area that are economically significant, in significant decline, or conserved in accordance with Federal or State law, as determined by the Secretary in consultation with the State technical committee; and
(C)described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (3).
(c) Authorized activities on grasslands
For eligible land described in section
3831(b)(3) of this title, the Secretary shall permit the following activities:
(1)Common grazing practices, including maintenance and necessary cultural practices, on the land in a manner that is consistent with maintaining the viability of grassland, forb, and shrub species appropriate to that locality.
(2)Haying, mowing, or harvesting for seed production, subject to appropriate restrictions during the nesting season for birds in the local area that are economically significant, in significant decline, or conserved in accordance with Federal or State law, as determined by the Secretary in consultation with the State technical committee.
(3)Fire presuppression, fire-related rehabilitation, and construction of fire breaks.
(4)Grazing-related activities, such as fencing and livestock watering.
(d) Resource conserving use
(1) In general
Beginning on the date that is 1 year before the date of termination of a contract under the program, the Secretary shall allow an owner or operator to make conservation and land improvements for economic use that facilitate maintaining protection of enrolled land after expiration of the contract.
(2) Conservation plan
The Secretary shall require an owner or operator carrying out the activities described in paragraph (1) to develop and implement a conservation plan.
(3) Re-enrollment prohibited
Land improved under paragraph (1) may not be re-enrolled in the conservation reserve program for 5 years after the date of termination of the contract.
(4) Payment reduction
In the case of an activity carried out under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall reduce the payment otherwise payable under the contract by an amount commensurate with the economic value of the activity.
2014—Pub. L. 113–79amended section generally. Prior to amendment, section also related to duties of the Secretary.
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The most recent Classification Table update that we have noticed was Tuesday, August 13, 2013
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