- § 3811. Program ineligibility
- § 3812. Exemptions
- § 3812a. Development and implementation of conservation plans and conservation systems
- § 3813. Soil surveys
- § 3814. Notice and investigation of possible compliance deficiencies
The Secretary shall have, and shall not delegate to any private person or entity, authority to determine whether a person has complied with this subchapter.
Section 3811 of this title shall not apply to a loan described in section 3811 of this title made before December 23, 1985.
No person shall become ineligible under section 3811 of this title for program loans, payments, and benefits as a result of the failure of the person to actively apply a conservation plan, if the Secretary determines that the person has acted in good faith and without an intent to violate this subchapter.
A person who meets the requirements of paragraph (1) shall be allowed a reasonable period of time, as determined by the Secretary, but not to exceed 1 year, during which to implement the measures and practices necessary to be considered to be actively applying the conservation plan of the person.
If this paragraph applies under subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall, in lieu of applying the ineligibility provisions of section 3811 of this title, reduce program benefits described in section 3811 of this title that the producer would otherwise be eligible to receive in a crop year by an amount commensurate with the seriousness of the violation, as determined by the Secretary.
Any person whose benefits are reduced for any crop year under this subsection shall continue to be eligible for all of the benefits described in section 3811 of this title for any subsequent crop year if, prior to the beginning of the subsequent crop year, the Secretary determines that the person is actively applying a conservation plan according to the schedule specified in the plan.
Section 3811 of this title shall not apply to the noncommercial production of agricultural commodities on a farm if such production is limited to two acres or less and if the Secretary determines that such production is not intended to circumvent the conservation requirements otherwise applicable to lands under this subchapter.
For the purpose of determining whether there is a substantial reduction in soil erosion on a field containing highly erodible cropland, the measurement of erosion reduction achieved by the application of a conservation system under a person’s conservation plan shall be based on the estimated annual level of erosion at the time of the measurement compared to the estimated annual level of erosion that existed before the implementation of the conservation measures and management practices provided for in the conservation system.
Annual residue measurements supplied by a producer (including measurements performed by a certified third party) shall be used by the Secretary if the Secretary determines that the measurements indicate that the residue level for the field meets the level required under the conservation plan.
For the purpose of determining the eligibility of a person for program benefits specified in section 3811 of this title at the time application is made for the benefits, the Secretary shall permit the person to certify that the person is complying with the person’s conservation plan.
If a person makes a certification under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall not be required to carry out a review of the status of compliance of the person with the conservation plan under which the conservation system is being applied.
The Secretary shall permit a person who makes a certification under paragraph (1) with respect to a conservation plan to revise the conservation plan in any manner, if the same level of conservation treatment provided for by the conservation system under the person’s conservation plan is maintained. The Secretary may not revise the person’s conservation plan without the concurrence of the person.
For the purpose of determining the eligibility of a person for the payment described in section 3811(a)(1)(E) of this title, the Secretary shall apply the procedures described in section 3821(c)(3)(E) of this title and coordinate the certification process so as to avoid duplication or unnecessary paperwork.
The Secretary shall, using available resources and consistent with the Secretary’s other conservation responsibilities and objectives, provide technical assistance to a person throughout the development, revision, and application of the conservation plan and any conservation system of the person. At the request of the person, the Secretary may provide technical assistance regarding conservation measures and management practices for other lands of the person that do not contain highly erodible cropland.
To encourage on-farm conservation research, the Secretary may allow a person to include in the person’s conservation plan or a conservation system under the plan, on a field trial basis, practices that are not currently approved but that the Secretary considers have a reasonable likelihood of success.
The Secretary shall, as soon as is practicable after December 23, 1985, complete soil surveys on those private lands that do not have a soil survey suitable for use in determining the land capability class for purposes of this subchapter. In carrying out this section, the Secretary shall, insofar as possible, concentrate on those localities where significant amounts of highly erodible land are being converted to the production of agricultural commodities.
An employee of the Department of Agriculture who observes a possible compliance deficiency or other potential violation of a conservation plan or this subchapter while providing on-site technical assistance shall provide to the responsible persons, not later than 45 days after observing the possible violation, information regarding actions needed to comply with the plan and this subchapter. The employee shall provide the information in lieu of reporting the observation as a compliance violation.
The responsible persons shall attempt to correct the deficiencies as soon as practicable after receiving the information.
If the corrective action is not fully implemented not later than 1 year after the responsible persons receive the information, the Secretary may conduct a review of the status of compliance of the persons with the conservation plan and this subchapter.