In making cost sharing payments to an owner or operator under a contract entered into under this subpart, the Secretary shall pay 50 percent of the cost of establishing water quality and conservation measures and practices required under each contract for which the Secretary determines that cost sharing is appropriate and in the public interest.
The Secretary shall not make any payment to an owner or operator under this subpart to the extent that the total amount of cost sharing payments provided to the owner or operator from all sources would exceed 100 percent of the total cost of establishing measures and practices described in paragraph (1).
This paragraph applies to land devoted to the production of hardwood trees, windbreaks, shelterbelts, or wildlife corridors under a contract entered into under this subpart after November 28, 1990.
In making cost share payments to an owner or operator of land described in subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall pay 50 percent of the reasonable and necessary costs incurred by the owner or operator for maintaining trees or shrubs, including the cost of replanting (if the trees or shrubs were lost due to conditions beyond the control of the owner or operator).
The Secretary shall make payments as described in clause (i) for a period of not less than 2 years, but not more than 4 years, beginning on the date of the planting of the trees or shrubs.
In determining the amount of annual rental payments to be paid to owners and operators for converting highly erodible cropland or other eligible lands normally devoted to the production of an agricultural commodity to less intensive use, the Secretary may consider, among other things, the amount necessary to encourage owners or operators of highly erodible cropland or other eligible lands to participate in the program established by this subpart.
In determining the acceptability of contract offers for new enrollments, the Secretary shall accept, to the maximum extent practicable, an offer from an owner or operator that is a resident of the county in which the land is located or of a contiguous county if, as determined by the Secretary, the land would provide at least equivalent conservation benefits to land under competing offers.
In the case of acreage enrolled in the conservation reserve established under this subpart that is to be devoted to hardwood trees, the Secretary may consider bids for contracts under this subsection on a continuous basis.
The Secretary (acting through the National Agricultural Statistics Service) shall, not less frequently than once every other year, conduct a survey of per acre estimates of county average market dryland and irrigated cash rental rates for cropland and pastureland in all counties or equivalent subdivisions within each State that have 20,000 acres or more of cropland and pastureland.
The estimates derived from the survey conducted under subparagraph (A) shall be maintained on a website of the Department of Agriculture for use by the general public.
Except as otherwise provided in this section, payments under this subpart shall be made in cash in such amount and on such time schedule as is agreed on and specified in the contract.
If an owner or operator that is entitled to a payment under a contract entered into under this subpart dies, becomes incompetent, is otherwise unable to receive the payment, or is succeeded by another person that renders or completes the required performance, the Secretary shall make the payment, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary and without regard to any other provision of law, in such manner as the Secretary determines is fair and reasonable in light of all of the circumstances.
The provisions of this subsection that limit payments to any person or legal entity, and section 1305(d) of the Agricultural Reconciliation Act of 1987 (7 U.S.C. 1308 note; Public Law 100–203), shall not be applicable to payments received by a State, political subdivision, or agency thereof in connection with agreements entered into under a special conservation reserve enhancement program carried out by that entity that has been approved by the Secretary.