7 CFR 799.9 - Ensuring that environmental factors are considered in agency decisionmaking.
(a) The NEPA regulations at 40 CFR 1501.1 contain requirements to ensure adequate consideration of environmental factors in decisionmaking. To fulfill these requirements, FSA officials shall:
(1) Consider all relevant environmental factors in evaluating proposals for agency action;
(2) Make all relevant environmental documents, comments and responses part of the record in formal rulemaking or adjudicatory proceedings.
(3) Ensure that all relevant environmental documents, comments and responses accompany the proposal through existing review processes;
(4) Consider only those alternatives encompassed by the range of alternatives discussed in the relevant environmental documents when evaluating proposals for agency action.
(5) Where an EIS has been prepared, consider the specific alternatives analyzed in the EIS when evaluating the proposal which is the subject of the EIS.
(b) The four categories of FSA activities that have or are likely to have significant environment impacts on the human environment are:
(1) Legislative proposals.
(2) Initial program implementation.
(3) Major changes in ongoing programs.
(4) Major environmental concerns with ongoing programs.
(c) Initial NEPA involvement in program categories in paragraph (b) of this section shall begin at the time FSA begins developing proposed legislation, begins the planning stage for implementing a new or changed program or receives notice that an ongoing program may have a significant adverse impact on the quality of the human environment. Where a legislative EIS or environmental assessment is part of the formal transmittal of a legislative program proposal to Congress, such legislative EIS or assessment may negate the need for the subsequent preparation of a program impact statement when FSA implements the resulting program. The decision whether such additional statement is needed will be made by an interdisciplinary team. The NEPA process on legislative proposals and FSA programs is carried out at the national level.
(d) Individual farm participation in FSA programs will normally not require any major involvement with the NEPA process. The practices carried out under FSA programs that might have impacts on the quality of the human environment will normally have been discussed in environmental assessments or impact statements on the applicable programs. However, for those practices that might significantly affect the quality of the human environment, the county committee shall make an environmental evaluation before approval. If the environmental evaluation shows that the implementation of a proposed FSA practice on an individual farm will have significant adverse affects on the quality of the human environment, the county committee will not approve the practice implementation until after the completion of the NEPA-EIS process in accordance with this part. For those actions for which technical assistance is provided by an agency other than FSA, and such technical agency is required by its regulations to implement NEPA requirements when providing such assistance, the county committee shall use the environmental determination and considerations of such agency instead of duplicating the NEPA-EIS process. Individual farm participation in acreage set-aside, acreage allotments, price support and loans and other similar or related programs will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment.
(e) Pooling agreements and special projects carried out under several FSA programs involving two or more farmers in a local geographic area will not normally require any major involvement with the NEPA process. However, the county committee shall, with the assistance of a local interdisciplinary team, as necessary, make an environmental evaluation of proposed pooling agreements or special projects that have a potential for significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. The NEPA process shall begin with the initial involvement of FSA personnel in the planning or development of pooling agreements or special projects. If it is determined from an environmental evaluation that the implementation of a proposed pooling agreement or a proposed special project will have a significant adverse impact on the quality of the human environment, the completion of the NEPA-EIS process in accordance with these regulations will be necessary before approval. For those actions for which technical assistance is provided by an agency other than FSA and such technical agency is required by its regulations to implement NEPA when providing such assistance the county committee shall use the environmental determinations and considerations of such agency instead of duplicating the NEPA-EIS process.