7 CFR § 1470.27 - Contract violations and termination.

§ 1470.27 Contract violations and termination.

(a) NRCS may terminate a contract:

(1) Without the consent of the participant where NRCS determines that the participant—

(i) Violated the contract; or

(ii) Is unable to comply with the terms of the contract as the result of conditions beyond their control.

(2) With the consent of the participant if NRCS determines that the termination is in the public interest. NRCS will not assess liquidated damages for contracts terminated under this basis.

(b) When NRCS terminates a contract in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, NRCS may allow a participant to retain payments already received based on—

(1) The level of effort the participant has made to comply with the contract. NRCS may require a participant to provide only a partial refund of the payments received if a previously installed conservation activity has achieved the expected conservation performance improvement, is not adversely affected by any contract violation or the absence of other conservation activities that would have been installed under the contract, and has met the associated operation and maintenance requirement of the activity; or

(2) Hardship situations where circumstances beyond the participant's control prevented the participant from complying with the contract. Any hardship affecting the participant's ability to comply with the contract must not have existed at the time the contract was executed by the participant. Participants may submit a written request to NRCS, along with additional supporting documentation, for NRCS to consider granting a waiver of any requested repayment and/or assessment of liquidated damages.

(c) If NRCS determines that a participant is out of compliance with the contract terms or incorporated documents, NRCS will notify the participant to explain what the participant must do to regain compliance and the consequences for not correcting the violation. NRCS will give the participant reasonable time to complete all necessary corrective actions, not to exceed one year. NRCS may authorize additional time for the participant to complete the corrective actions if, during the initial period, the participant was unable to complete the corrective actions due to circumstances beyond their control. If a participant's contract continues in violation, NRCS may:

(1) Terminate the contract in accordance with paragraph (e) of this section; or

(2) Where NRCS determines the violation does not warrant termination, NRCS may require the participant to:

(i) Refund all or a portion of the payments provided; or

(ii) Agree to such adjustments to the contact terms as determined appropriate by NRCS.

(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (c) of this section, NRCS will terminate a contract, effective immediately, upon a determination by NRCS that the participant:

(1) Has submitted false information or filed a false claim;

(2) Engaged in any act, scheme, or device for which NRCS found the participant ineligible for payments as provided in § 1470.36; or

(3) Incurred a contract violation that the participant cannot correct in a timeframe established by NRCS.

(e) If NRCS terminates a contract, the participant will forfeit all rights to future payments under the contract, pay liquidated damages, and refund all or part of the payments received, plus interest, except as otherwise noted in paragraph (b) of this section.