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, one of which shall occur in the first quarter of each fiscal year;
(2)identify not less than 3 nor more than 5 priority resource concerns in a particular watershed or other appropriate region or area within a State; and
(3)develop reliable conservation measurement tools for purposes of carrying out the program.
(b) Allocation to States
The Secretary shall allocate acres to States for enrollment, based—
(1)primarily on each State’s proportion of eligible acres under section
3838e(b)(1) of this title to the total number of eligible acres 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) 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.
(d) Acreage enrollment limitation
During the period beginning on October 1, 2008, and ending on September 30, 2017, the Secretary shall, to the maximum extent practicable—
(1)enroll in the program an additional 12,769,000 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.
(e) Conservation stewardship payments
(1) Availability of payments
The Secretary shall provide a payment 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 operation of the producer at the time the contract offer is accepted by the Secretary.
(2) Payment amount
The amount of the conservation stewardship 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 environmental benefits as determined by conservation measurement tools.
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) Timing of payments
(A) In general
The Secretary shall make payments as soon as practicable after October 1 of each fiscal year for activities carried out in the previous fiscal year.
(B) Additional activities
The Secretary shall make payments to compensate producers for installation of additional practices at the time at which the practices are installed and adopted.
(f) 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 resource-conserving crop rotations to achieve beneficial crop rotations as appropriate for the 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.
(g) Payment limitations
A person or legal entity may not receive, directly or indirectly, payments under this subpart that, in the aggregate, exceed $200,000 for all contracts entered into during any 5-year period, excluding funding arrangements with federally recognized Indian tribes or Alaska Native corporations, regardless of the number of contracts entered into under the program by the person or entity.
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 (g); and
(2)otherwise enable the Secretary to carry out the program.
The Secretary shall maintain detailed and segmented data on contracts and payments under the program to allow for quantification of the amount of payments made for—
(1)the installation and adoption of additional conservation activities and improvements to conservation activities in place on the operation of a producer at the time the conservation stewardship offer is accepted by the Secretary;
(2)participation in research, demonstration, and pilot projects; and
(3)the development and periodic assessment and evaluation of conservation plans developed under this subpart.
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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