Until such time as an adverse decision described in this paragraph is referred to the National Appeals Division for consideration, the Farm Service Agency shall have initial jurisdiction over any administrative appeal resulting from an adverse decision made under title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3801 et seq.), including an adverse decision involving technical determinations made by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
With respect to administrative appeals involving a technical determination made by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Farm Service Agency, by rule with the concurrence of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, shall establish procedures for obtaining review by the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the technical determinations involved. Such rules shall ensure that technical criteria established by the Natural Resources Conservation Service shall be used by the Farm Service Agency as the basis for any decisions regarding technical determinations. If no review is requested, the technical determination of the Natural Resources Conservation Service shall be the technical basis for any decision rendered by a county or area committee established under section 590h(b)(5) of title 16. If the committee requests a review by the Natural Resources Conservation Service of a wetlands determination of the Service, the Farm Service Agency shall consult with other Federal agencies whenever required by law or under a memorandum of agreement in existence on October 13, 1994.
After a technical determination has been made, on a producer’s request, if a county or area committee determines that the application of the producer’s conservation system would impose an undue economic hardship on the producer, the committee shall provide the producer with relief to avoid the hardship.
In the implementation of programs and activities assigned to the Farm Service Agency, the Secretary may use interchangeably in local offices of the Agency both Federal employees of the Department and non-Federal employees of county and area committees established under section 590h(b)(5) of title 16.
Notwithstanding paragraph (1), no personnel action (as defined in section 2302(a)(2)(A) of title 5) may be taken with respect to a Federal employee unless such action is taken by another Federal employee.