16 U.S. Code § 3833. Duties of the Secretary

(a) Cost-share and rental paymentsIn return for a contract entered into by an owner or operator under the conservation reserve program, the Secretary shall—
(1)
share the cost of carrying out the conservation measures and practices set forth in the contract for which the Secretary determines that cost sharing is appropriate and in the public interest, including the cost of fencing and other water distribution practices, if applicable; and
(2) for a period of years not in excess of the term of the contract, pay an annual rental payment, in accordance with section 3834(d) of this title, for—
(A)
the conversion of highly erodible cropland, marginal pastureland, or other eligible lands normally devoted to the production of an agricultural commodity on a farm or ranch to a less intensive use; or
(B)
the development and management of grasslands for multiple natural resource conservation benefits, including to soil, water, air, and wildlife.
(b) Specified activities permitted
(1) In generalThe Secretary, in coordination with the applicable State technical committee established under section 3861(a) of this title, shall permit certain activities or commercial uses of established cover on land that is subject to a contract under the conservation reserve program if—
(A) those activities or uses—
(i)
are consistent with the conservation of soil, water quality, and wildlife habitat;
(ii)
are subject to appropriate restrictions during the primary nesting season for birds in the local area that are economically significant, in significant decline, or conserved in accordance with Federal or State law;
(iii)
contribute to the health and vigor of the established cover; and
(iv)
are consistent with a site-specific plan, including vegetative management requirements, stocking rates, and frequency and duration of activity, taking into consideration regional differences, such as climate, soil type, and natural resources; and
(B) the Secretary, in coordination with the State technical committee, includes contract modifications—
(i) without any reduction in the rental rate for—
(I) emergency haying, emergency grazing, or other emergency use of the forage in response to a localized or regional drought, flooding, wildfire, or other emergency, on all practices, outside the primary nesting season, when—
(aa)
the county is designated as D2 (severe drought) or greater according to the United States Drought Monitor;
(bb)
there is at least a 40 percent loss in forage production in the county; or
(cc)
the Secretary, in coordination with the State technical committee, determines that the program can assist in the response to a natural disaster event without permanent damage to the established cover;
(II)
emergency grazing on all practices during the primary nesting season if payments are authorized for a county under the livestock forage disaster program under clause (ii) of section 9081(c)(3)(D) of title 7, at 50 percent of the normal carrying capacity determined under clause (i) of that section, adjusted to the site-specific plan;
(III)
emergency haying on certain practices, outside the primary nesting season, if payments are authorized for a county under the livestock forage disaster program under clause (ii) of section 9081(c)(3)(D) of title 7, on not more than 50 percent of contract acres, as identified in the site-specific plan;
(IV)
grazing of all practices, outside the primary nesting season, if included as a mid-contract management practice under section 3832(a)(5) of this title;
(V) the intermittent and seasonal use of vegetative buffer established under paragraphs (4) and (5) of section 3831(b) of this title that are incidental to agricultural production on land adjacent to the buffer such that the permitted use—
(aa)
does not destroy the permanent vegetative cover; and
(bb)
retains suitable vegetative structure for wildlife cover and shelter outside the primary nesting season; or
(VI)
grazing on all practices, outside the primary nesting season, if conducted by a beginning farmer or rancher; or
(ii) with a 25 percent reduction in the annual rental rate for the acres covered by the authorized activity, including—
(I)
grazing not more frequently than every other year on the same land, except that during the primary nesting season, grazing shall be subject to a 50 percent reduction in the stocking rate specified in the site-specific plan;
(II)
grazing of all practices during the primary nesting season, with a 50 percent reduction in the stocking rate specified in the site-specific plan;
(III) haying and other commercial use (including the managed harvesting of biomass and excluding the harvesting of vegetative cover), on the condition that the activity—
(aa)
is completed outside the primary nesting season;
(bb)
occurs not more than once every 3 years; and
(cc)
maintains 25 percent of the total contract acres unharvested, in accordance with a site-specific plan that provides for wildlife cover and shelter;
(IV)
annual grazing outside the primary nesting season if consistent with a site-specific plan that is authorized for the control of invasive species; and
(V) the installation of wind turbines and associated access, except that in permitting the installation of wind turbines, the Secretary shall determine the number and location of wind turbines that may be installed, taking into account—
(aa)
the location, size, and other physical characteristics of the land;
(bb)
the extent to which the land contains threatened or endangered wildlife and wildlife habitat; and
(cc)
the purposes of the conservation reserve program under this subpart.
(2) Conditions on haying and grazing
(A) In general

The Secretary may permit haying or grazing in accordance with paragraph (1) on any land or practice subject to a contract under the conservation reserve program.

(B) Exceptions
(i) Damage to vegetative cover

Haying or grazing described in paragraph (1) shall not be permitted on land subject to a contract under the conservation reserve program, or under a particular practice, if haying or grazing for that year under that practice, as applicable, would cause long-term damage to vegetative cover on that land.

(ii) Special agreements
(I) In generalExcept as provided in subclause (II), haying or grazing described in paragraph (1) shall not be permitted on—
(aa)
land covered by a contract enrolled under the State acres for wildlife enhancement program established by the Secretary; or
(bb)
land covered by a contract enrolled under a conservation reserve enhancement program established under section 3831a of this title or the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program established by the Secretary under this subpart.
(II) Exception

Subclause (I) shall not apply to land on which haying or grazing is specifically permitted under the applicable conservation reserve enhancement program agreement or other partnership agreement entered into under this subpart.

(c) Authorized activities on grasslandsFor eligible land described in section 3831(b)(3) of this title, the Secretary shall permit the following activities:
(1)
Common grazing practices, including maintenance and necessary cultural practices, on the land in a manner that is consistent with maintaining the viability of grassland, forb, and shrub species appropriate to that locality.
(2)
Haying, mowing, or harvesting for seed production, subject to appropriate restrictions during the nesting season for birds in the local area that are economically significant, in significant decline, or conserved in accordance with Federal or State law, as determined by the Secretary in consultation with the State technical committee.
(3)
Fire presuppression, fire-related rehabilitation, and construction of fire breaks.
(4)
Grazing-related activities, such as fencing and livestock watering.
(d) Resource conserving use
(1) In general

Beginning on the date that is 1 year before the date of termination of a contract under the program, the Secretary shall allow an owner or operator to make conservation and land improvements for economic use that facilitate maintaining protection of enrolled land after expiration of the contract.

(2) Conservation plan

The Secretary shall require an owner or operator carrying out the activities described in paragraph (1) to develop and implement a conservation plan.

(3) Re-enrollment prohibited

Land improved under paragraph (1) may not be re-enrolled in the conservation reserve program for 5 years after the date of termination of the contract.

(4) Payment reduction

In the case of an activity carried out under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall reduce the payment otherwise payable under the contract by an amount commensurate with the economic value of the activity.

(e) Natural disaster or adverse weather as mid-contract management

In the case of a natural disaster or adverse weather event that has the effect of a management practice consistent with the conservation plan, the Secretary shall not require further management practices pursuant to section 3832(a)(5) of this title that are intended to achieve the same effect.

(Pub. L. 99–198, title XII, § 1233, as added Pub. L. 107–171, title II, § 2101(a), May 13, 2002, 116 Stat. 245; amended Pub. L. 113–79, title II, § 2004, Feb. 7, 2014, 128 Stat. 715; Pub. L. 115–334, title II, § 2206, Dec. 20, 2018, 132 Stat. 4543.)
Prior Provisions

A prior section 3833, Pub. L. 99–198, title XII, § 1233, Dec. 23, 1985, 99 Stat. 1511, related to duties of Secretary, prior to the general amendment of this subpart by Pub. L. 107–171.

Amendments

2018—Subsec. (a)(1). Pub. L. 115–334, § 2206(a)(1), inserted “, including the cost of fencing and other water distribution practices, if applicable” after “in the public interest”.

Subsec. (a)(2). Pub. L. 115–334, § 2206(a)(2)(A), substituted “, in accordance with section 3834(d) of this title,” for “in an amount necessary to compensate” in introductory provisions.

Subsec. (a)(2)(A). Pub. L. 115–334, § 2206(a)(2)(B) inserted “, marginal pastureland,” after “cropland” and “or” at end.

Subsec. (a)(2)(B), (C). Pub. L. 115–334, § 2206(a)(2)(C), (D), redesignated subpar. (C) as (B) and struck out former subpar. (B) which read as follows: “the retirement of any base history that the owner or operator agrees to retire permanently; and”.

Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 115–334, § 2206(b), added subsec. (b) and struck out former subsec. (b) which described certain activities or commercial uses that would be permitted on land subject to a contract under the conservation reserve program.

Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 115–334, § 2206(c), added subsec. (e).

2014—Pub. L. 113–79 amended section generally. Prior to amendment, section also related to duties of the Secretary.