7 CFR § 1466.3 - Definitions.

§ 1466.3 Definitions.

The definitions in this section apply to this part and all documents issued in accordance with this part, unless specified elsewhere in this part:

Agricultural operation means a parcel or parcels of land whether contiguous or noncontiguous, which is under the effective control of the producer at the time the producer applies for a contract, and which is operated by the producer with equipment, labor, management, and production, or cultivation practices that are substantially separate from other operations.

Animal feeding operation (AFO) means a lot or facility (other than an aquatic animal production facility) where the conditions in this definition are met:

(1) Animals have been, are, or will be stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period; and

(2) Crops, vegetation, forage growth, or post-harvest residues are not sustained in the normal growing season over any portion of the lot or facility.

Animal waste storage or treatment facility means a structural conservation practice, implemented on an AFO consistent with the requirements of a comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP) and Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG), which is used for storing, treating, or handling animal waste or by-products, such as animal carcasses.

Applicant means a producer who has requested in writing to participate in EQIP.

At-risk species means any plant or animal species listed as threatened or endangered; proposed or candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act; a species listed as threatened or endangered under State law or Tribal law on Tribal land; State or Tribal land species of conservation concern; or other plant or animal species or community, as determined by the State Conservationist, with advice from the State Technical Committee or Tribal Conservation Advisory Council, that has undergone, or is likely to undergo, population decline and may become imperiled without direct intervention.

Beginning farmer or rancher means a person, Indian Tribe, Tribal corporation, or legal entity who:

(1) Has not operated a farm or ranch, or NIPF, or who has operated a farm, ranch, or NIPF for not more than 10 consecutive years. This requirement applies to all members of an entity who will materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm or ranch.

(2) In the case of a contract with an individual, individually, or with the immediate family, material and substantial participation requires that the individual provide substantial day-to-day labor and management of the farm or ranch, consistent with the practices in the county or State where the farm is located.

(3) In the case of a contract with an entity or joint operation, all members must materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm or ranch. Material and substantial participation requires that each of the members provide some amount of the management, or labor and management necessary for day-to-day activities, such that if each of the members did not provide these inputs, operation of the farm or ranch would be seriously impaired.

Chief means the Chief of NRCS, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), or designee.

Comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP) means a conservation plan that is specifically for an AFO. A CNMP identifies conservation practices and management activities that, when implemented as part of a conservation system, will manage sufficient quantities of manure, waste water, or organic by-products associated with a waste management facility. A CNMP incorporates practices to use animal manure and organic by-products as a beneficial resource while protecting all applicable natural resources including water and air quality associated with an AFO. A CNMP is developed to assist an AFO owner or operator in meeting all applicable local, Tribal, State, and Federal water quality goals or regulations. For nutrient-impaired stream segments or water bodies, additional management activities or conservation practices may be required by local, Tribal, State, or Federal water quality goals or regulations.

Conservation benefit means the improved condition of a natural resource concern resulting from the implementation of a conservation practice.

Conservation district means any district or unit of State, Tribal, or local government formed under State, Tribal, or territorial law for the express purpose of developing and carrying out a local soil and water conservation program. Such district or unit of government may be referred to as a “conservation district,” “soil conservation district,” “soil and water conservation district,” “resource conservation district,” “land conservation committee,” “natural resource district,” or similar name.

Conservation practice means one or more conservation improvements and activities, including structural practices, land management practices, vegetative practices, forest management practices, and other improvements that achieve the program purposes, including such items as CNMPs, agricultural energy management plans, dryland transition plans, forest management plans, soil testing, soil remediation, integrated pest management, and other plans or activities determined acceptable by the Chief. Approved conservation practices are listed in the NRCS FOTG.

Contract means a legal document that specifies the rights and obligations of any participant accepted into the program. An EQIP contract is a binding agreement for the transfer of assistance from USDA to the participant to share in the costs of implementing conservation practices.

Cost-effectiveness means the least costly option for achieving a given set of conservation objectives to address a resource concern.

Eligible land means land on which agricultural commodities, livestock, or forest-related products are produced, and specifically includes:

(1) Cropland;

(2) Grassland;

(3) Rangeland;

(4) Pasture land;

(5) Nonindustrial private forest land; and

(6) Other agricultural land (including cropped woodland, marshes, environmentally sensitive areas as identified by NRCS, and agricultural land used for the production of livestock) on which identified or expected resource concerns related to agricultural production that may be addressed by a contract under EQIP as determined by the Chief.

Enrolled land means the land area identified and included in the program contract at the time when funds have been obligated.

EQIP plan of operations means the document that identifies the location, timing, and extent of conservation practices that the participant agrees to implement on eligible land enrolled in the program in order to address the priority resource concerns, optimize environmental benefits, and address program purposes as defined in § 1466.1. The EQIP plan of operations is part of the EQIP contract.

Estimated income foregone means an estimate of the net income loss associated with the adoption of a conservation practice. Along with other estimated incurred costs, income foregone is one of the costs associated with practice implementation as recorded in a payment schedule.

Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) means the official local NRCS source of resource information and interpretations of guidelines, criteria, and requirements for planning and implementation of conservation practices. It contains detailed information on the quality standards to achieve conservation of soil, water, air, plant, energy, and animal resources applicable to the local area for which it is prepared. (See https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/technical/fotg/ to access your State FOTG.)

Forest management plan means a site-specific plan that is prepared according to NRCS criteria by a professional resource manager, in consultation with the participant, and is approved by NRCS. Forest management plans may include a forest stewardship plan, as specified in section 5 of the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2103a); another plan approved by the State forester or Indian Tribe; or another plan determined appropriate by NRCS. The plan is intended to comply with Federal, State, Tribal, and local laws, regulations, and permit requirements.

Habitat development means the application of conservation practices to establish, improve, protect, enhance, or restore the conditions of the land for the specific purpose of improving conditions for fish and wildlife.

High priority area means a watershed (or other appropriate region or area within a State) wherein the Chief, in consultation with the State Technical Committee, has identified one or more priority resource concerns.

Historically underserved producer means a person, joint operation, legal entity, or Indian Tribe who is a beginning farmer or rancher, socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher, limited resource farmer or rancher, or veteran farmer or rancher.

Incentive practice means a practice or set of practices approved by the Chief that, when implemented and maintained on eligible land, address one or more priority resource concerns under a contract entered into under subpart D of this part.

Indian land means:

(1) Land held in trust by the United States for individual Indians or Indian Tribes;

(2) Land, the title to which is held by individual Indians or Indian Tribes subject to Federal restrictions against alienation or encumbrance;

(3) Land which is subject to rights of use, occupancy or benefit of certain Indian Tribes; or

(4) Land held in fee title by an Indian, Indian family, or Indian Tribe.

Indian Tribe means any Indian Tribe, band, nation, pueblo, or other organized group or community, including any Alaska Native village or regional or village corporation as defined in or established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians.

Integrated pest management means a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health, and environmental risks.

Joint operation means, as defined in 7 CFR part 1400, a general partnership, joint venture, or other similar business organization in which the members are jointly and severally liable for the obligations of the organization.

Legal entity means, as defined in 7 CFR part 1400, an entity created under Federal or State law that:

(1) Owns land or an agricultural commodity, product, or livestock; or

(2) Produces an agricultural commodity, product, or livestock.

Lifespan means the period of time during which a conservation practice or activity should be maintained and used for the intended purpose.

Limited resource farmer or rancher means either:

(1) Individual producer:

(i) A person with direct or indirect gross farm sales not more than the current indexed value in each of the previous 2 fiscal years (adjusted for inflation using Prices Paid by Farmer Index as compiled by National Agricultural Statistical Service), and

(ii) Has a total household income at or below the national poverty level for a family of four, or less than 50 percent of county median household income in each of the previous 2 years (to be determined annually using Commerce Department Data); or

(2) A legal entity or joint operation if all individual members independently qualify under paragraph (1) of this definition.

Liquidated damages means a sum of money stipulated in the EQIP contract that the participant agrees to pay NRCS if the participant fails to adequately complete the terms of the contract. The sum represents an estimate of the technical assistance expenses incurred to service the contract and reflects the difficulties of proof of loss and the inconvenience or nonfeasibility of otherwise obtaining an adequate remedy.

Livestock means all domesticated animals produced on farms or ranches, as determined by the Chief.

Livestock production means farm or ranch operations involving the production, growing, raising, or reproduction of domesticated livestock or livestock products.

Local working group means the advisory body as defined in 7 CFR part 610.

National Organic Program means the national program established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.), administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service, which regulates the standards for any farm, wild crop harvesting, or handling operation that wants to sell an agricultural product as organically produced.

National priorities mean resource issues identified by the Chief, with advice from other federal agencies, Indian Tribes, and State Conservationists, which is used to determine the distribution of EQIP funds and guide local EQIP implementation.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is an agency of USDA, which has responsibility for administering EQIP using the funds, facilities, and authorities of the CCC.

Nonindustrial private forest land (NIPF) means rural land, as determined by NRCS, that has existing tree cover or is suitable for growing trees; and is owned by any nonindustrial private individual, group, association, corporation, Indian Tribe, or other private legal entity that has definitive decision-making authority over the land.

Operation and maintenance (O&M) means work performed by the participant to keep the applied conservation practice functioning for the intended purpose during the conservation practice lifespan. Operation includes the administration, management, and performance of nonmaintenance actions needed to keep the completed practice functioning as intended. Maintenance includes work to prevent deterioration of the practice, repairing damage, or replacement of the practice to its original condition if one or more components fail.

O&M agreement means the document that, in conjunction with the EQIP plan of operations, specifies the O&M responsibilities of the participant for conservation practices installed with EQIP assistance.

Organic system plan (OSP) means a management plan for organic production or for an organic handling operation that has been agreed to by the producer or handler and the certifying agent. The OSP includes all written plans that govern all aspects of agricultural production or handling as required under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.).

Participant means an applicant that has entered into an EQIP contract who incurs the cost of practice implementation, will receive or has received payment, or is responsible for implementing the terms and conditions of an EQIP contract.

Payment means financial assistance provided to the participant based on the estimated costs incurred in performing or implementing conservation practices, including costs for: Planning, design, materials, equipment, installation, labor, management, maintenance, or training, as well as the estimated income foregone by the participant for designated conservation practices.

Person means, as defined in 7 CFR part 1400, an individual, natural person, and does not include a legal entity.

Priority resource concern means a resource concern, as determined by the Chief, with input from the State Technical Committee, that—

(1) Is identified at the national, State, or local level as a priority for a particular area of a State; and

(2) Represents a significant concern in a State or region.

Producer means a person, legal entity, Indian Tribe, or joint operation who NRCS determines is engaged in agricultural production or forestry management on the agricultural operation.

Resource concern means a specific natural resource issue or problem that represents a significant concern in a State or region and is likely to be addressed through the implementation of conservation practices by producers according to NRCS technical standards.

Semi-public means entities that are private or public companies that serve a public purpose, i.e. Public utility companies. They often have condemnation authority but are not considered part of the State or State government.

Socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher means a producer who is a member of a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudices without regard to its members' individual qualities. For an entity, at least 50-percent ownership in the business entity must be held by socially disadvantaged individuals.

Soil remediation means scientifically based practices, as determined by NRCS, that—

(1) Ensure the safety of producers from contaminants in soil;

(2) Limit contaminants in soils from entering agricultural products for human or animal consumption; and

(3) Regenerate and sustain the soil.

Soil testing means the evaluation of soil health, including testing for the—

(1) Optimal level of constituents in the soil, such as organic matter, nutrients, and the potential presence of soil contaminants (including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons, or other contaminants), as determined by NRCS; and

(2) Biological and physical characteristics indicative of proper soil functioning.

State conservationist means the NRCS employee authorized to implement EQIP and direct and supervise NRCS activities in a State and the Caribbean and Pacific Island Areas.

State Technical Committee means a committee established by NRCS in a State pursuant to 7 CFR part 610, subpart C.

Structural practice means a conservation practice, including a vegetative practice, that involves establishing, constructing, or installing a site-specific measure to conserve and protect a resource from degradation, or improve soil, water, air, or related natural resources. Examples include, but are not limited to, animal waste management facilities, terraces, grassed waterways, tailwater pits, livestock water developments, contour grass strips, filter strips, critical area plantings, tree plantings, establishment or improvement of wildlife habitat, and capping of abandoned wells.

Technical assistance means technical expertise, information, training, education, and tools necessary for a producer to be able to successfully implement, operate, and maintain conservation practices to ensure the conservation of natural resources on land active in agricultural, forestry, or related uses. These technical services include:

(1) Technical services provided directly to farmers, ranchers, Indian Tribes, and other eligible entities, such as conservation planning, technical consultation, and assistance with design and implementation of conservation practices; and

(2) Technical infrastructure, including activities, processes, tools, and agency functions needed to support delivery of technical services, such as technical standards, resource inventories, training, education, data, technology, monitoring, and effects analyses.

Technical service provider (TSP) means an individual, private-sector entity, Indian Tribe, or public agency either:

(1) Certified by NRCS pursuant to 7 CFR part 652 and placed on the approved list to provide technical services to participants; or

(2) Selected by the Department to assist in the implementation of conservation programs covered by this part through a procurement contract, contributions agreement, or cooperative agreement with the Department.

Tribal Conservation Advisory Council means, in lieu of or in addition to forming a Tribal conservation district, an Indian Tribe may elect to designate an advisory council to provide input on NRCS programs and the conservation needs of the Tribe and Tribal producers. The advisory council may be an existing Tribal committee or department and may also constitute an association of member Tribes organized to provide direct consultation to NRCS at the State, regional, and national levels to provide input on NRCS rules, policies, and programs and their impacts on Tribes.

Veteran farmer or rancher means a producer who meets the definition in section 2501(a) of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990, as amended (7 U.S.C. 2279(a)).

Water management entity means a State, irrigation district, groundwater management district, acequia, land grant-merced, or similar entity that has jurisdiction or responsibilities related to water delivery or management to eligible lands.

Wildlife means nondomesticated birds, fishes, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and mammals.

Wildlife habitat means the aquatic and terrestrial environments required for fish and wildlife to complete their life cycles, providing air, food, cover, water, and spatial requirements.

[84 FR 69280, Dec. 17, 2019, as amended at 85 FR 67647, Oct. 26, 2020]