U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Nov 14, 2019

§ 12.6 - Administration.

(a) General. In general determinations will be made as follows:

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, a determination of ineligibility for benefits in accordance with the provisions of this part will be made by the agency of USDA to which the person has applied for benefits. All determinations required to be made under the provisions of this part will be made by the agency responsible for making such determinations, as provided in this section.

(2) Eligibility for Federal crop insurance premium subsidies will be based on final determinations, including all administrative appeals, made by NRCS and FSA. Neither RMA, FCIC, approved insurance providers, or any employee, agent, or contractors thereof, will make any determination regarding compliance with the highly erodible land or wetland provisions of this part, unless specifically provided for in § 12.13.

(b) Administration by FSA. (1) The provisions of this part which are applicable to FSA will be administered under the general supervision of the Administrator, FSA, and shall be carried out in the field in part by State FSA committees and county FSA committees (COC).

(2) The FSA Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs may determine any question arising under the provisions of this part which are applicable to FSA and may reverse or modify any determination of eligibility with respect to programs administered by FSA made by a State FSA committee or COC or any other FSA office or FSA official (except the Administrator) in connection with the provisions of this part.

(3) FSA shall make the following determinations which are required to be made in accordance with this part:

(i) Whether a person produced an agricultural commodity on a particular field as determined under § 12.5(a)(1);

(ii) The establishment of field boundaries;

(iii) Whether land was planted to an agricultural commodity in any of the years, 1981 through 1985, for the purposes of § 12.5(a)(1);

(iv) Whether land was set aside, diverted, or otherwise not cultivated under a program administered by the Secretary for any crop to reduce production of an agricultural commodity under §§ 12.4(g) and 12.5(a)(1);

(v) Whether for the purposes of § 12.9, the production of an agricultural commodity on highly erodible land or converted wetland by a landlord's tenant or sharecropper is required under the terms and conditions of the agreement between the landlord and such tenant or sharecropper;

(vi) Whether the conversion of a particular wetland was commenced before December 23, 1985, for the purposes of § 12.5(b)(3);

(vii) Whether the conversion of a wetland was caused by a third party under § 12.5(b)(1)(vii)(D);

(viii) Whether certain violations were made in good faith under §§ 12.5(a)(5) or 12.5(b)(5);

(ix) The determination of the amount of reduction in benefits based on the seriousness of the violation, based on technical information provided by NRCS;

(x) The determination of whether the application of the producer's conservation plan or system would impose an undue economic hardship on the producer; and

(xi) Whether the proceeds of a farm loan made, insured, or guaranteed by FSA will be used for a purpose that will contribute to excessive erosion of highly erodible land or to the conversion of wetland.

(4) A representative number of farms selected in accordance with instructions issued by the Deputy Administrator shall be inspected by an authorized representative of FSA to determine compliance with any requirement specified in this part as a prerequisite for obtaining program benefits.

(5) FSA may consult with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on third-party determinations.

(c) Administration by NRCS. (1) The provisions of this part that are applicable to NRCS shall be administered under the general supervision of the Associate Chief for Conservation, and shall be carried out in the field by the regional conservationist, state conservationist, area conservationist, and district conservationist or other NRCS representative.

(2) An NRCS representative shall make the following determinations which are required to be made in accordance with this part:

(i) Whether land is highly erodible or has a wetland type or a converted wetland identified in accordance with the provisions of this part;

(ii) Whether highly erodible land is predominant on a particular field under § 12.22;

(iii) Whether the conservation plan that a person is applying is based on the local NRCS field office technical guide and is approved by -

(A) The CD and NRCS, or

(B) NRCS;

(iv) Whether the conservation system that a person is using has been approved by the CD under § 12.5(a)(2) or, in an area not within a CD, a conservation system approved by NRCS to be adequate for the production of an agricultural commodity on highly erodible land;

(v) Whether the actions of a person(s) with respect to the conversion of a wetland or production of an agricultural commodity on converted wetland would have only a minimal effect on the functions and values of wetlands in the area;

(vi) Whether an approved conservation plan is being applied on highly erodible fields in accordance with the schedule specified therein or whether a failure to apply the plan is technical and minor in nature, due to circumstances beyond the control of the person, or whether a temporary variance form the requirements of the plan should be granted;

(vii) Whether an approved conservation system is being used on a highly erodible field;

(viii) Whether the conversion of a wetland is for the purpose or has the effect of making the production of an agricultural commodity possible;

(ix) Whether a farmed wetland or farmed-wetland pasture is abandoned;

(x) Whether the planting of an agricultural commodity on a wetland is possible under natural conditions;

(xi) Whether maintenance of existing drainage of a wetland described in § 12.33 exceeds the scope and effect of the original drainage;

(xii) Whether a plan for the mitigation of a converted wetland will be approved and whether the mitigation of a converted wetland is accomplished according to the approved mitigation plan;

(xiii) Whether all technical information relating to the determination of a violation and severity of a violation has been provided to FSA for making payment-reduction determinations; and

(xiv) Whether or not a commenced-conversion activity was completed by January 1, 1995.

(3) NRCS may provide such other technical assistance for implementation of the provisions of this part as is determined to be necessary.

(4) A person may obtain a highly erodible land or a wetland scope-and-effect determination by making a written request on Form AD-1026. The determination will be made in writing, and a copy will be provided to the person.

(5) A determination of whether or not an area meets the highly erodible land criteria or whether wetland criteria, identified in accordance with the current Federal wetland delineation methodology in use at the time of the determination and that are consistent with current mapping conventions, may be made by the NRCS representative based upon existing records or other information and without the need for an on-site determination. This determination will be made by the NRCS representative as soon as possible following a request for such a determination.

(6) An on-site determination as to whether an area meets the applicable criteria shall be made by an NRCS representative if the person has disagreed with the determination made under paragraph (c)(5) of this section, or if adequate information is not otherwise available to an NRCS representative on which to make an off-site determination.

(7) An on-site determination, where applicable, will be made by the NRCS representative as soon as possible following a request for such a determination, but only when site conditions are favorable for the evaluation of soils, hydrology, or vegetation.

(8) With regard to wetland determinations, if an area is continuously inundated or saturated for long periods of time during the growing season to such an extent that access by foot to make a determination of predominance of hydric soils or prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation is not feasible, the area will be determined to be a wetland.

(9) Persons who are adversely affected by a determination made under this section and believe that the requirements of this part were improperly applied may appeal, under § 12.12 of this part, any determination by NRCS.

(10) NRCS will operate a program or work with third parties to establish mitigation banks to assist persons in complying with §§ 12.4(c) and 12.5(b)(4). Persons will be able to access mitigation banks established or approved through this program without requiring the Secretary to hold an easement in a mitigation bank.

(d) Administration by NIFA. The NIFA shall coordinate the related information and education program for USDA concerning implementation of this rule.

(e) Assistance of other Federal agencies. If NRCS determines, through agreement or otherwise, that the purposes of this part would be furthered by the assistance of other Federal agencies with wetland responsibilities, NRCS may accept such assistance and adopt any or all such actions by these agencies as an action by an NRCS representative under this part.

(f) Administration by RMA. The provisions of this part that are applicable to RMA will be administered under the general supervision of the Administrator, RMA.

(1) Eligibility for Federal crop insurance premium subsidies will be based on the person's:

(i) Accurate and timely filing of a certification of compliance (Form AD-1026 or successor form) with the conservation compliance provisions; and

(ii) Compliance with the conservation compliance provisions.

(2) Ineligibility for Federal crop insurance premium subsidies due to violations of the conservation compliance provisions will be based on final determinations, including all administrative appeals, made by NRCS and FSA as provided in this part.

(3) Neither RMA nor FCIC will make any determination of eligibility regarding compliance with the highly erodible land or wetland provisions in this part, unless specifically provided for in § 12.13.

(4) RMA will provide the applicable information regarding determinations made by NRCS and FSA to the appropriate approved insurance providers to ensure those determinations affecting Federal crop insurance premium subsidy eligibility are implemented according to this part.

(g) Approved insurance providers. No approved insurance provider or any employee, agent, or contractor of an approved insurance provider will:

(1) Make any determination of eligibility regarding compliance with the highly erodible land or wetland provisions of this part; or

(2) Be responsible or liable for a person's eligibility for Federal crop insurance premium subsidy under this part, except in cases of fraud, misrepresentation, or scheme and device by the approved insurance provider or any employee, agent, or contractor thereof.

[61 FR 47025, Sept. 6, 1996; 61 FR 53491, Oct. 11, 1996; 76 FR 4804, Jan. 27, 2011; 80 FR 22880, Apr. 24, 2015]