7 CFR § 1410.90 - Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

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§ 1410.90 Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

(a) An agreement executed under the provisions of this section will not effect, modify, or otherwise interfere with any Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement in effect on or before December 20, 2018. In order to implement other provisions of this section, the signatories to a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement in effect on or before December 20, 2018, may mutually agree in writing to modify such agreement in such a manner.

(b) CCC may enter into a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement with an eligible partner to cost-effectively assist in enrolling otherwise eligible land in CRP.

(c) To enter into a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement with CCC, eligible partners must provide required matching funds. Such matching funds provided by the eligible partners may be cash, in-kind contributions, or technical assistance. The amount and type of matching funds must be specified in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement. At least one-half of the matching funds must be provided as a direct payment to eligible participants. The amount of matching funds an eligible partner must contribute under a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement will be either:

(1) 30 percent of the total cost of the project, unless a different amount is determined by negotiation between CCC and the eligible partner with whom CCC is entering into the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement, if the majority of the matching funds to carry out the agreement are provided by one or more eligible partners that are not nongovernmental organizations; or

(2) Not less than 30 percent of the total cost of the project, if a majority of the matching funds to carry out the agreement are provided by one or more nongovernmental organizations.

(d) Notwithstanding § 1410.40(d), cost-share payments, including practice incentive payments, from all sources may exceed 100 percent of the actual cost of establishing eligible practices, but only if specifically authorized by the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement. Furthermore, a participant may not receive or retain cost-share payments if other Federal cost-share assistance is provided for such acreage under any law.

(e) With regard only to land enrolled as a riparian buffer:

(1) The term “management” means an activity conducted by the owner or operator of the land after the riparian buffer is established to regularly maintain or enhance only the vegetative cover throughout the CRP contract period and in accordance with the conservation plan;

(2) Cost-share payments will be made available for approved management as provided for in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement:

(i) If such activity has been completed in accordance with the conservation plan; and

(ii) In an amount as provided for in the agreement, but not greater than 100 percent of the normal and customary cost of such activity; but

(iii) No practice incentive payment will be made for such activity; and

(3) If provided for in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement, a participant may plant food-producing woody plants as part of the approved cover, provided such plantings:

(i) Contribute to the conservation of soil, water quality, and wildlife habitat;

(ii) Are consistent with recommendations of the applicable State Technical Committee;

(iii) Are consistent with the FOTG; and

(iv) Are provided for in the conservation plan.

(f) Participants may harvest from the food-producing woody plants specified in paragraph (e)(3) of this section only if the following conditions are met:

(1) The criteria in paragraph (e)(3) of this section are met;

(2) The participant agrees to a reduction in the annual rental payment commensurate with the value of the crop harvested;

(3) All the food-producing woody plant species within 35 feet of the water body the riparian buffer is buffering are only native plant species;

(4) The harvesting will not damage the approved cover or otherwise have a negative impact on the resource concern being addressed by the riparian buffer; and

(5) The harvesting is conducted in accordance with the conservation plan.

(g) In the case of a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement whose purpose is to address regional drought concerns, CCC may:

(1) Enroll otherwise ineligible cropland, marginal pastureland, or grassland, on which the resource concerns identified in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement can be addressed if the enrollment of such land is critical to the accomplishment of the purposes of the agreement; and

(2) Determine annual rental payments so as to be consistent with similar Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreements, and to ensure regional consistency regarding such payments.

(h) Notwithstanding § 1410.30, generally, enrollment under a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program will be held on a continuous signup basis. However, the terms and conditions of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement will determine the basis of enrollment.