To achieve the conservation goals of a contract under the conservation stewardship program, the Secretary shall—
(1)make the program available to eligible producers on a continuous enrollment basis with 1 or more ranking periods, 1 of which shall occur in the first quarter of each fiscal year;
(2)identify not less than 5 priority resource concerns in a particular watershed or other appropriate region or area within a State; and
(3)establish a science-based stewardship threshold for each priority resource concern identified under paragraph (2).
(b) Allocation to States
The Secretary shall allocate acres to States for enrollment, based—
(1)primarily on each State’s proportion of eligible land to the total acreage of eligible land in all States; and
(2)also on consideration of—
(A)the extent and magnitude of the conservation needs associated with agricultural production in each State;
(B)the degree to which implementation of the program in the State is, or will be, effective in helping producers address those needs; and
(C)other considerations to achieve equitable geographic distribution of funds, as determined by the Secretary.
(c) Acreage enrollment limitation
During the period beginning on February 7, 2014, and ending on September 30, 2022, the Secretary shall, to the maximum extent practicable—
(1)enroll in the program an additional 10,000,000 acres for each fiscal year; and
(2)manage the program to achieve a national average rate of $18 per acre, which shall include the costs of all financial assistance, technical assistance, and any other expenses associated with enrollment or participation in the program.
(d) Conservation stewardship payments
(1) Availability of payments
The Secretary shall provide annual payments under the program to compensate the producer for—
(A)installing and adopting additional conservation activities; and
(B)improving, maintaining, and managing conservation activities in place at the agricultural operation of the producer at the time the contract offer is accepted by the Secretary.
(2) Payment amount
The amount of the annual payment shall be determined by the Secretary and based, to the maximum extent practicable, on the following factors:
(A)Costs incurred by the producer associated with planning, design, materials, installation, labor, management, maintenance, or training.
(B)Income forgone by the producer.
(C)Expected conservation benefits.
(D)The extent to which priority resource concerns will be addressed through the installation and adoption of conservation activities on the agricultural operation.
(E)The level of stewardship in place at the time of application and maintained over the term of the contract.
(F)The degree to which the conservation activities will be integrated across the entire agricultural operation for all applicable priority resource concerns over the term of the contract.
(G)Such other factors as are determined appropriate by the Secretary.
A payment to a producer under this subsection shall not be provided for—
(A)the design, construction, or maintenance of animal waste storage or treatment facilities or associated waste transport or transfer devices for animal feeding operations; or
(B)conservation activities for which there is no cost incurred or income forgone to the producer.
(4) Delivery of payments
In making payments under this subsection, the Secretary shall, to the extent practicable—
(A)prorate conservation performance over the term of the contract so as to accommodate, to the extent practicable, producers earning equal annual payments in each fiscal year; and
(B)make such payments as soon as practicable after October 1 of each fiscal year for activities carried out in the previous fiscal year.
(e) Supplemental payments for resource-conserving crop rotations
(1) Availability of payments
The Secretary shall provide additional payments to producers that, in participating in the program, agree to adopt or improve resource-conserving crop rotations to achieve beneficial crop rotations as appropriate for the eligible land of the producers.
(2) Beneficial crop rotations
The Secretary shall determine whether a resource-conserving crop rotation is a beneficial crop rotation eligible for additional payments under paragraph (1) based on whether the resource-conserving crop rotation is designed to provide natural resource conservation and production benefits.
To be eligible to receive a payment described in paragraph (1), a producer shall agree to adopt and maintain beneficial resource-conserving crop rotations for the term of the contract.
(4) Resource-conserving crop rotation
In this subsection, the term “resource-conserving crop rotation” means a crop rotation that—
(A)includes at least 1 resource-conserving crop (as defined by the Secretary);
(C)improves soil fertility and tilth;
(D)interrupts pest cycles; and
(E)in applicable areas, reduces depletion of soil moisture or otherwise reduces the need for irrigation.
(f) Payment limitations
A person or legal entity may not receive, directly or indirectly, payments under the program that, in the aggregate, exceed $200,000 under all contracts entered into during fiscal years 2014 through 2018, excluding funding arrangements with Indian tribes, regardless of the number of contracts entered into under the program by the person or legal entity.
(g) Specialty crop and organic producers
The Secretary shall ensure that outreach and technical assistance are available, and program specifications are appropriate to enable specialty crop and organic producers to participate in the program.
(h) Coordination with organic certification
The Secretary shall establish a transparent means by which producers may initiate organic certification under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.) while participating in a contract under the program.
The Secretary shall promulgate regulations that—
(1)prescribe such other rules as the Secretary determines to be necessary to ensure a fair and reasonable application of the limitations established under subsection (f); and
(2)otherwise enable the Secretary to carry out the program.
The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, referred to in subsec. (h), is title XXI of Pub. L. 101–624, Nov. 28, 1990, 104 Stat. 3935, which is classified generally to chapter 94 (§ 6501 et seq.) of Title 7, Agriculture. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section
6501 of Title
7 and Tables.
2014—Pub. L. 113–79amended section generally. Prior to amendment, section related to duties of the Secretary.
The table below lists the classification updates, since Jan. 3, 2012, for this section. Updates to a broader range of sections may be found at the update page for containing chapter, title, etc.
The most recent Classification Table update that we have noticed was Tuesday, August 13, 2013
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