The Secretary shall establish criteria to evaluate and rank applications for rental contracts and easements under the program.
In establishing the criteria, the Secretary shall emphasize support for—
(B)plant and animal biodiversity; and
(C)grassland, land that contains forbs, and shrubland under the greatest threat of conversion to uses other than grazing.
(1) In general
In return for the execution of a rental contract or the granting of an easement by an owner or operator under the program, the Secretary shall—
(A)make rental contract or easement payments to the owner or operator in accordance with paragraphs (2) and (3); and
(B)make payments to the owner or operator under a restoration agreement for the Federal share of the cost of restoration in accordance with paragraph (4).
(2) Rental contract payments
(A) Percentage of grazing value of land
In return for the execution of a rental contract by an owner or operator under the program, the Secretary shall make annual payments during the term of the contract in an amount, subject to subparagraph (B), that is not more than 75 percent of the grazing value of the land covered by the contract.
(B) Payment limitation
Payments made under 1 or more rental contracts to a person or legal entity, directly or indirectly, may not exceed, in the aggregate, $50,000 per year.
(3) Easement payments
(A) In general
Subject to subparagraph (B), in return for the granting of an easement by an owner under the program, the Secretary shall make easement payments in an amount not to exceed the fair market value of the land less the grazing value of the land encumbered by the easement.
(B) Method for determination of compensation
In making a determination under subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall pay as compensation for a  easement acquired under the program the lowest of—
(i)the fair market value of the land encumbered by the easement, as determined by the Secretary, using—
(I)the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices; or
(II)an area-wide market analysis or survey;
(ii)the amount corresponding to a geographical cap, as determined by the Secretary in regulations; or
(iii)the offer made by the landowner.
Easement payments may be provided in up to 10 annual payments of equal or unequal amount, as agreed to by the Secretary and the owner.
(4) Restoration agreement payments
(A) Federal share of restoration
The Secretary shall make payments to an owner or operator under a restoration agreement of not more than 50 percent of the costs of carrying out measures and practices necessary to restore functions and values of that land.
(B) Payment limitation
Payments made under 1 or more restoration agreements to a person or legal entity, directly or indirectly, may not exceed, in the aggregate, $50,000 per year.
(5) Payments to others
If an owner or operator who is entitled to a payment under the program dies, becomes incompetent, is otherwise unable to receive the payment, or is succeeded by another person who renders or completes the required performance, the Secretary shall make the payment, in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Secretary and without regard to any other provision of law, in such manner as the Secretary determines is fair and reasonable in light of all the circumstances.
2008—Pub. L. 110–246, § 2403, amended section generally. Prior to amendment, section related to: in subsec. (a), duty of Secretary to make payments to an owner; in subsec. (b), amount of payments; in subsec. (c), Federal share of restoration; and in subsec. (d), payments to others.
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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