7 CFR § 1469.21 - Contract requirements.

§ 1469.21 Contract requirements.

(a) To receive payments, each participant must enter into a conservation stewardship contract and comply with its provisions. Among other provisions, the participant agrees to maintain at least the level of stewardship identified in the benchmark inventory for the portion of land being enrolled for the entire contract period, as appropriate, and implement and maintain any new practices or activities required in the contract.

(b) Program participants will only receive payments from one conservation stewardship contract.

(c) CSP participants must address the following requirements or additional resource concerns to the minimum level of treatment by the end of their conservation stewardship contract:

(1)Tier I contract requirement: additional practices and activities as included by the applicant in the conservation stewardship plan and approved by NRCS, over the part of the agricultural operation enrolled in CSP.

(2)Tier II contract requirements:

(i) Address an additional locally significant resource concern, as described in section III of the NRCS FOTG over the entire agricultural operation. Applicants may satisfy this requirement by demonstrating that the locally significant resource concern is not applicable to their operation or that they have already addressed it in accordance with NRCS'; quality criteria; and

(ii) Additional practices and activities as included by the applicant in the conservation stewardship plan and approved by NRCS, over the entire agricultural operation, where applicable.

(3)Tier III contract requirement: additional practices and activities as included by the applicant in the conservation stewardship plan and approved by NRCS, over the entire agricultural operation, where applicable.

(d)Transition to a higher tier of participation.

(1) Upon agreement by NRCS and the participant, a conservation stewardship contract may include provisions that lead to a higher tier of participation during the contract period. Such a transition does not require a contract modification if that transition is laid out in the schedule of contract activities. In the event that such a transition begins with Tier I, only the land area in the agricultural operation that meets the requirements for enrollment in Tier I can be enrolled in the contract until the transition occurs. Upon transition from Tier I to a higher tier of participation, the entire agricultural operation must be incorporated into the contract. All requirements applicable to the higher tier of participation would then apply. NRCS will calculate all stewardship, existing practice, new practice payments, and enhancement payments using the applicable enrolled acreage at the time of the payment.

(2) A contract which transitions to higher tier(s) of participation must include:

(i) A schedule for the activities associated with the transition(s);

(ii) A date certain by which time the transition(s) must occur; and,

(iii) A specification that the CSP payment will be based on the current Tier of participation, which may change over the life of the contract.

(3) A contract which transitions to a higher tier will be modified to receive the higher payments once the required level of treatment has been achieved and field verified by NRCS.

(4) A contract which includes a transition from Tier I to Tier II or III may be adjusted in length up to 10 years beginning from the original contract date.

(e) A conservation stewardship contract must:

(1) Incorporate by reference the conservation stewardship plan;

(2) Be for 5 years for Tier I, and 5 to 10 years for Tier II or Tier III;

(3) Incorporate all provisions as required by law or statute, including participant requirements to -

(i) Implement and maintain the practices as identified and scheduled in the conservation stewardship plan, including those needed to be eligible for the specified tier of participation and comply with any additional sign-up requirements,

(ii) Not conduct any practices on the farm or ranch that tend to defeat the purposes of the contract,

(iii) Comply with the terms of the contract, or documents incorporated by reference into the contract. NRCS will give the participant a reasonable time, as determined by the State Conservationist, to correct any violation and comply with the terms of the contract and attachments thereto. If a violation continues, the State Conservationist may terminate the conservation stewardship contract, and

(iv) Supply records and information as required by CCC to determine compliance with the contract and requirements of CSP;

(4) Specify the requirements for operation and maintenance of the applied conservation practices;

(5) Specify the schedule of payments under the life of the contract, including how those payments -

(i) Relate to the schedule for implementing additional conservation measures as described in the conservation stewardship plan,

(ii) Relate to the actual implementation of additional conservation measures as described in the conservation stewardship plan, and

(iii) May be adjusted by NRCS if the participant's management decisions change the appropriate set or schedule of conservation measures on the operation; and,

(6) Incorporate any other provisions determined necessary or appropriate by NRCS, or included as a requirement for the sign-up.

(f) Practices scheduled in contracts must be applied and maintained within the timelines specified in the contract.

(g)Contracts expire on September 30 in the last year of the contract.

(h)Participants must:

(1) Implement the conservation stewardship contract approved by NRCS;

(2) Make available to NRCS, appropriate records showing the timely implementation of the contract;

(3) Comply with the regulations of this part; and

(4) Not engage in any activity that interferes with the purposes of the program, as determined by NRCS.

(i) NRCS will determine the payments under the contract as described in § 1469.23.

(j) For contracts encompassing the entire agricultural operation, the geographic boundaries of the acreage enrolled in the contract must include all fields and facilities under the participant's direct control, as determined by NRCS.