7 CFR § 658.3 - Applicability and exemptions.

§ 658.3 Applicability and exemptions.

(a) Section 1540(b) of the Act, 7 U.S.C. 4201(b), states that the purpose of the Act is to minimize the extent to which Federal programs contribute to the unnecessary and irreversible conversion of farmland to nonagricultural uses. Conversion of farmland to nonagricultural uses does not include the construction of on-farm structures necessary for farm operations. Federal agencies can obtain assistance from USDA in determining whether a proposed location or site meets the Act's definition of farmland. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field office serving the area will provide the assistance. Many State or local government planning offices can also provide this assistance.

(b) Acquisition or use of farmland by a Federal agency for national defense purposes is exempted by section 1547(b) of the Act, 7 U.S.C. 4208(b).

(c) The Act and these regulations do not authorize the Federal Government in any way to regulate the use of private or non-Federal land, or in any way affect the property rights of owners of such land. In cases where either a private party or a non-Federal unit of government applies for Federal assistance to convert farmland to a nonagricultural use, the Federal agency should use the criteria set forth in this part to identify and take into account any adverse effects on farmland of the assistance requested and develop alternative actions that would avoid or mitigate such adverse effects. If, after consideration of the adverse effects and suggested alternatives, the landowners want to proceed with conversion, the Federal agency, on the basis of the analysis set forth in § 658.4 and any agency policies or procedures for implementing the Act, may provide or deny the requested assistance. Only assistance and actions that would convert farmland to nonagricultural uses are subject to this Act. Assistance and actions related to the purchase, maintenance, renovation, or replacement of existing structures and sites converted prior to the time of an application for assistance from a Federal agency, including assistance and actions related to the construction of minor new ancillary structures (such as garages or sheds), are not subject to the Act.

(d) Section 1548 of the Act, as amended, 7 U.S.C. 4209, states that the Act shall not be deemed to provide a basis for any action, either legal or equitable, by any person or class of persons challenging a Federal project, program, or other activity that may affect farmland. Neither the Act nor this rule, therefore, shall afford any basis for such an action. However, as further provided in section 1548, the governor of an affected state, where a state policy or program exists to protect farmland, may bring an action in the Federal district court of the district where a Federal program is proposed to enforce the requirements of section 1541 of the Act, 7 U.S.C. 4202, and regulations issued pursuant to that section.

[49 FR 27724, July 5, 1984, as amended at 59 FR 31117, June 17, 1994]