7 CFR 614.2 - Definitions.
The following definitions are applicable for the purposes of this part:
Agency means NRCS and its employees.
Agency exhibit means those documents or materials that are used during the hearing to further explain, differentiate, or distinguish a point, concept, or criteria in an appeal but that were not those materials or documents that the agency relied upon in making the adverse decision. Agency exhibits are labeled alphabetically A, B, C, etc., with total pages in each exhibit numbered.
Agency record means all documents and materials, including documents submitted by the participant and those generated by NRCS, which the agency relies upon and bases its program decision or technical determination. The agency record will include all documents relevant to the adverse decision. NRCS maintains the agency record and will, upon request or appeal, make available a copy of the agency record for a specific adverse decision to the participant(s) involved in the dispute. Agency record documents are labeled numerically 1, 2, 3, etc., in the lower right hand of the document.
Appeal means a written request by a participant asking for review (including mediation) of an adverse NRCS technical determination or program decision under this part. An appeal must set out the reason(s) for appeal and include any supporting documentation. An appeal is considered filed when the participant's request has been received by the accepting official as indicated in the adverse decision notice.
Chief means the Chief of NRCS or his or her designee.
Commodity Credit Corporation means a wholly owned government corporation within USDA.
Conservation district means any district or unit of State or local government developed under State 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 and water conservation district, natural resource district, conservation committee, or similar name.
County committee means a FSA county or area committee established in accordance with section 8(b) of the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act ( 16 U.S.C. 590h(b)).
Designated conservationist means the NRCS official, usually the district conservationist, whom the State Conservationist designates to be responsible for the program or compliance requirement to which this part is applicable.
Final technical determination means a preliminary technical determination issued under the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation (HELC/WC) provisions found in 7 CFR part 12 that have become final, and thus, appealable under sections 8 or 10 of this final rule.
Hearing means an informal appeal proceeding, either before the NRCS State Conservationist or the FSA county committee that affords a participant opportunity to present testimony and documentary evidence to show why an adverse program decision is in error and why the adverse decision should be reversed.
Mediation means a process in which a neutral third party, the mediator, meets with the disputing parties, usually the participant and the agency. Through mediation, the parties have the opportunity to work together with the assistance of the mediator to: Improve communications, understand the relevant issues, develop and explore alternatives, and reach a mutually satisfactory resolution.
Mediator means a neutral third party who serves as an impartial facilitator between two or more parties to assist them in resolving a dispute. The mediator does not take sides or render decisions on the merits of the dispute. The mediator assists the parties in identifying areas of agreement and encourages the parties to explore potential options toward resolution.
Participant means any individual or entity who has applied for, or whose right to participate in or receive, a payment or other benefit in accordance with any program administered by NRCS to which the regulations in this part apply and is affected by a decision of NRCS. The term does not include those individuals or entities excluded in the definition of participant published at 7 CFR 11.1.
Preliminary technical determination means the initial written decision by NRCS for a technical matter under HELC/WC which has not become final under this part.
Program decision means a written decision by NRCS concerning eligibility for program benefits, program administration, or program implementation and based upon applicable regulations and program instructions and not a technical determination made solely for the HELC/WC provisions. Program decisions may include technical matters relative to the specific conservation program. These are final decisions upon receipt by the program participant.
Qualified mediator means a mediator who is accredited under State law in those States that have a mediation program certified by USDA pursuant to 7 CFR part 785, or in those States that do not have a mediation program certified by USDA, an individual who has attended a minimum of 40 hours of core mediator knowledge and skills training and, to remain in a qualified mediator status, completes a minimum of 20 hours of additional training or education during each 2-year period. Such training or education must be approved by USDA, an accredited college or university, or one of the following organizations: State Bar, a State mediation association, a State approved mediation program, or a society of dispute resolution professionals.
Secretary means the Secretary of Agriculture.
State Conservationist means the NRCS official, or his or her designee, in charge of NRCS operations within a State.
Verbatim transcript means the official, written record of proceedings of a hearing on a decision appealable under this part.