7 CFR 1415.2 - Administration.
(a) The regulations in this part set forth policies, procedures, and requirements for program implementation of GRP, as administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA). The regulations in this part are administered under the general supervision and direction of the NRCS Chief and the FSA Administrator. These two agency leaders:
(1) Concur in the establishment of program policy and direction, development of the national allocation formula, and development of broad national ranking criteria;
(2) Use a national allocation formula to provide GRP funds to NRCS State Conservationists and FSA State Executive Directors that emphasizes support for grazing operations, biodiversity of plants and animals, and grasslands under the greatest threat of conversion to uses other than grazing. The national allocation formula may also include additional factors related to improving program implementation, as determined by the NRCS Chief and the FSA Administrator. The allocation formula may be modified periodically to change the emphasis of any factor(s) in order to address a particular natural resource concern, such as the precipitous decline of a population of a grassland-dependent bird(s) or animal(s);
(3) Ensure the national, State, and local-level information regarding program implementation is made available to the public;
(4) Consult with USDA leaders at the State level and other Federal agencies with the appropriate expertise and information when evaluating program policies and direction; and
(5) Authorize NRCS State Conservationists and FSA State Executive Directors to determine how funds will be used and how the program will be implemented at the State level.
(b) At the State level, the NRCS State Conservationist and the FSA State Executive Director are jointly responsible for:
(1) Determining how funds will be used and how the program will be implemented at the State level to achieve the program purposes;
(2) Identifying State priorities for project selection based on input from the State Technical Committee;
(3) Identifying Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees at the field level responsible for implementing the program by considering the nature and extent of natural resource concerns throughout the State and the availability of human resources to assist with activities related to program enrollment;
(4) Developing, with advice from the State Technical Committee, program outreach materials at the State and local levels to help ensure landowners, operators, and tenants of eligible land are aware and informed that they may be eligible for the program;
(5) Approving conservation practices eligible for cost-share and cost-share rates;
(6) Developing GRP management plans and restoration agreements, when applicable;
(7) Administering and enforcing the terms of easements and rental contracts unless this responsibility is transferred to an eligible entity as provided in § 1415.17 and § 1415.18; and
(8) Developing, with advice from the State Technical Committee, criteria for ranking eligible land consistent with national criteria and program objectives and State priorities.
(c) The funds, facilities, and authorities of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) are available to NRCS and FSA to implement GRP.
(d) Subject to funding availability, the program may be implemented in any of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands of the United States, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
(e) The NRCS Chief or the FSA Administrator may modify or waive a provision of this part if he or she deems the application of that provision to a particular limited situation to be inappropriate and inconsistent with the conservation purposes and sound administration of GRP. This authority cannot be further delegated. No provision of this part, which is required by law, may be waived.
(f) No delegation in this part to lower organizational levels will preclude the NRCS Chief or the FSA Administrator from determining any issue arising under this part or from reversing or modifying any determination arising from this part.
(g) The USDA Forest Service may hold GRP easements on properties adjacent to USDA Forest Service land, with the consent of the landowner.
(h) Program participation is voluntary.
(i) Applications for participation will be accepted on a continual basis at local USDA Service Centers. Eligible entities wishing to enter into a cooperative agreement under § 1415.17 in order to purchase, own, write, and hold easements may apply on a continuous basis to the NRCS State Conservationist. The NRCS State Conservationist and FSA State Executive Director will establish cut-off periods to rank and select applications for participation. These cut-off periods will be available in program outreach material provided by the local USDA Service Center. Once funding levels have been exhausted, unfunded eligible applications will remain on file until they are funded or the applicant chooses to be removed from consideration.
(j) The services of third parties as provided for in part 652 of this title may be used to provide technical services to participants.