7 CFR § 520.5 - Categorical exclusions.
For the following categories of actions, the preparation of an EA or EIS is not required:
(a) Department of Agriculture categorical exclusions (7 CFR 1b.3).
(1) Policy development, planning and implementation which are related to routine activities such as personnel, organizational changes or similar administrative functions;
(2) Activities which deal solely with the functions of programs, such as program budget proposals, disbursement, transfer or reprogramming of funds;
(3) Inventories, research activities and studies, such as resource inventories and routine data collection when such actions are clearly limited in context and intensity;
(4) Educational and information programs and activities;
(5) Activities which are advisory and consultative to other agencies, public and private entities, and
(6) Activities related to trade representation and market development activities overseas.
(b) ARS categorical exclusions. ARS actions which, based on previous experience, have been found to have limited scope and intensity and produce little or no individual or cumulative impacts to the human environment. Some examples are:
(1) Repair, replacement of structural components or equipment, or other routine maintenance of facilities controlled in whole or in part by ARS;
(2) Research programs or projects of limited size and magnitude or with only short-term effects on the environment. Examples are:
(i) Research operations conducted within any laboratory, greenhouse or other contained facility where research practices and safeguards prevent environment impacts such as the release of hazardous materials into the environment;
(ii) Inventories, studies or other such activities that have limited context and minimal intensity in terms of changes in the environment;
(iii) Testing outside of the laboratory, such as in small isolated field plots, which does not involve the use of control agents requiring containment or a special license or a permit from a regulatory agency.
(c) Exceptions to categorical exclusions. An environmental assessment shall be prepared for an activity which is normally within the purview of categorical exclusion if there are extraordinary circumstances which may cause such activity to have a significant environmental effect.