U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Nov 30, 2022
(a) Subject to the availability of funds, this part provides the terms, conditions and requirements of the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Neither program is an entitlement program and payments will only be made to the extent that the Deputy Administrator announces the eligibility of benefits for certain natural disasters, the areas in which such benefits will be available, the time period in which the disaster and the rehabilitation must occur, and only so long as all the conditions for eligibility specified in this part and elsewhere in law are met. However, the Deputy Administrator will not apply any non-statutory limitation on payments provided for in this part in such a way that it would necessarily result in the non-expenditure of program funds required to otherwise be made by law.
(b) ECP and EFRP are administered by the Administrator, FSA through the Deputy Administrator, FSA, and shall be carried out in the field by State and county FSA committees (State and county committees), subject to the availability of funds. Except as otherwise provided in this rule, discretionary determinations to be made under this rule will be made by the Deputy Administrator. Matters committed to the discretion of the Deputy Administrator shall be considered in all cases to be permissive powers and no person or legal entity shall, under any circumstances, be considered to be entitled to an exercise of such power in their favor.
(c) State and county committees, and representatives and employees, do not have authority to modify or waive any regulations in this part.
(d) The State committee may take any action authorized or required of the county committee by this part, but which the county committee has not taken, such as:
(1) Correct or require a county committee to correct any action taken by such county committee that is not in accordance with this part; or
(2) Require a county committee to withhold taking any action that is not in accordance with this part.
(e) No provision or delegation herein to a State or county committee shall preclude the Administrator, FSA, or a designee, from determining any question arising under the program or from reversing or modifying any determination made by a State or county committee.
(f) The Deputy Administrator may authorize State and county committees to waive or modify deadlines and other requirements in cases where lateness or failure to meet such other requirements does not adversely affect the operation of the program.
(g) The Deputy Administrator may limit the authority of state and county committees to approve cost share in excess of specified amounts.
(h) Data furnished by the applicants will be used to determine eligibility for program benefits. Furnishing the data is voluntary; however, the failure to provide data could result in program benefits being withheld or denied.
(i) FSA may consult with any other Federal agency, State agency, or other provider of technical assistance for such assistance as is determined by FSA to be necessary to implement ECP or EFRP. FSA is responsible for the technical aspects of ECP and EFRP but may enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with another party to provide technical assistance. If the requirement for technical assistance results in undue delay or significant hardship to producers in a county, the State committee may request in writing that FSA waive this requirement for that county. However, nothing in this paragraph or in this part creates a right of appeal or action for an applicant with respect to provisions relating to internal procedures of FSA.
(j) The provisions in this part shall not create an entitlement in any person or legal entity to any ECP or EFRP cost share or claim or any particular notice or form or procedure.
(k) Additional terms and conditions may be set forth in the application or the forms participants will be required to sign for participation in the ECP or EFRP.
(a) The terms defined in part 718 of this chapter shall be applicable to this part and all documents issued in accordance with this part, except as otherwise provided in this section.
(b) The following definitions shall apply to this part:
Agricultural producer means an owner, operator, or tenant of a farm or ranch used to produce for food or fiber, crops (including but not limited to, grain or row crops; seed crops; vegetables or fruits; hay forage or pasture; orchards or vineyards; flowers or bulbs; or field grown ornamentals) or livestock (including but not limited to, dairy or beef cattle; poultry; swine; sheep or goats; fish or other animals raised by aquaculture; other livestock or fowl) for commercial production. Producers of animals raised for recreational uses only are not considered agricultural producers.
Annual agricultural production means production of crops for food or fiber in a commercial operation that occurs on an annual basis under normal conditions.
Applicant means a person or legal entity who has submitted to FSA a request to participate in the ECP or EFRP.
Commercial forest land means forest land with trees intended to be harvested for commercial purposes that has a productivity potential greater than or equal to 20 cubic feet per year of merchantable timber.
Cost-share payment means the payment made by FSA to assist a program participant under this part to establish practices required to address qualifying damage suffered in connection with a qualifying disaster.
Deputy Administrator means the Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs, FSA, the ECP Program Manager, or designee.
Farmland means land devoted to agricultural production, including land used for aquaculture, or other land as may be determined by the Deputy Administrator.
Natural disaster means wildfires, hurricanes or excessive winds, drought, ice storms or blizzards, floods, or other naturally-occurring resource impacting events as determined by FSA. For EFRP, a natural disaster also includes insect or disease infestations as determined by FSA in consultation with other Federal and State agencies as appropriate.
Nonindustrial private forest land means rural commercial forest lands with existing tree cover, or which are suitable for growing trees, that are owned by a private non-industrial forest landowner as defined in this section.
Owners of nonindustrial private forest means, for purposes of the EFRP, an individual, group, association, corporation, Indian Tribe, or other legal private entity owning nonindustrial private forest land or who receives concurrence from the landowner for making the claim in lieu of the owner; and, for practice implementation, the one who holds a lease on the land for a minimum of 10 years. Owners or lessees principally engaged in the primary processing of raw wood products are excluded from this definition. Owners of land leased to lessees who would be excluded under the previous sentence are also excluded.
(a) Subject to the availability of funds, the Deputy Administrator shall provide for an enrollment period for submitting ECP or EFRP cost-share requests.
(b) Requests may be accepted after the announced enrollment period, if such acceptance is approved by the Deputy Administrator and is in accordance with the purposes of the program.
(a) An onsite inspection must be made before approval of any request for ECP or EFRP assistance.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this section, onsite inspections may be waived by FSA, in its discretion only, where damage is so severe that an onsite inspection is unnecessary, as determined by FSA.
§ 701.15 - Starting practices before cost-share request is submitted; non-entitlement to payment; payment subject to the availability of funds.
(a) Subject to paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section, costs will not be shared for practices or components of practices that are started before a request for cost share under this part is submitted with the applicable county FSA office.
(b) Costs may be shared for drought and non-drought practices or components of practices that are started before a request is submitted with the county FSA office, only if:
(1) Considered and approved on a case-by-case basis in accordance with instructions of the Deputy Administrator;
(2) The disaster that is the basis of a claim for cost-share assistance created a situation that required the producer to take immediate action to prevent further losses;
(3) The Deputy Administrator determines that the request for assistance was filed within a reasonable amount of time after the start of the enrollment period; and
(4) The practice was started no more than 60 days before the ECP or EFRP designation was approved for the applicable county office.
(c) Any action taken prior to approval of a claim is taken at the producer's own risk.
(d) An application for relief may be denied for any reason.
(e) All payments under this part are subject to the availability of funds.
(a) Requests shall be prioritized before approval based on factors deemed appropriate by FSA, which include, but are not limited to:
(1) Type and degree of damage;
(2) Type of practices needed to address the problem;
(3) Availability of funds;
(4) Availability of technical assistance;
(5) Environmental concerns;
(6) Safety factors; or
(7) In the case of ECP, welfare of eligible livestock.
(b) Requests for cost-share assistance may be approved if:
(1) Funds are available; and
(2) The requested practice is determined eligible.
Cost-share assistance is conditioned upon the availability of funds and the performance of the practice in compliance with all applicable specifications and program regulations.
(a) Completion of practice. After completion of the approved practice, the participant must certify completion and request payment by the payment request deadline. FSA will provide the participant with a form or another manner to be used to request payment.
(b) Proof of completion. Participants shall submit to FSA, at the local county office, the information needed to establish the extent of the performance of approved practices and compliance with applicable program provisions.
(c) Payment request deadline. The time limits for submission of information shall be determined by the Deputy Administrator. The payment request deadline for each ECP practice will be provided in the agreement after the application is approved. Time limits may be extended where failure to submit required information within the applicable time limits is due to reasons beyond the control of the participant.
Any eligible participant, as defined in this part, who paid part of the cost of an approved practice may file an application for cost-share payment.
(a) Cost-share assistance may be authorized for all reasonable costs incurred in the completion of the practice, up to the maximums provided in §§ 701.126, 701.127, and 701.226.
(b) Eligible costs shall be limited as follows:
(1) Costs for use of personal equipment shall be limited to those incurred beyond the normal operation of the eligible land.
(2) Costs for personal labor shall be limited to personal labor not normally required in the operation of the eligible land.
(3) Costs for the use of personal equipment and labor must be less than that charged for such equipment and labor by commercial contractors regularly employed in such areas.
(4) Costs shall not exceed those needed to achieve the minimum performance necessary to resolve the problem being corrected by the practice. Any costs above those levels shall not be considered to be eligible costs for purposes of calculations made under this part.
(c) Costs shall not exceed the practice specifications in § 701.112(d) or § 701.212(d) for cost-share calculations.
(d) The gross amount on which the cost-share eligibility may be computed will not include any costs that were reimbursed by a third party including, but not limited to, an insurance indemnity payment.
(e) Total cost-share payments from all sources shall not exceed the total of eligible costs of the practice to the applicant.
(a) For qualifying cost-share assistance under this part, the cost shall be credited to the participant who personally performed the practice or who paid to have it performed by a third party. If a payment or credit was made by one participant to another potential participant, paragraph (c) of this section shall apply.
(b) If more than one participant contributed to the performance of the practice, the cost-share assistance for the practice shall be divided among those eligible participants in the proportion they contributed to the performance of the practice. FSA may determine what proportion was contributed by each participant by considering the value of the labor, equipment, or material contributed by each participant and any other factors deemed relevant toward performance.
(c) Allowance by a participant of a credit to another participant through adjustment in rent, cash or other consideration, may be considered as a cost of a practice to the paying party only if FSA determines that such credit is directly related to the practice. An applicant who was fully reimbursed shall be considered as not having contributed to the practice performance.
Any assistance provided by someone other than the eligible participant, including assistance from a State or Federal agency, shall be deducted from the participant's total costs incurred for the practice for the purpose of computing ECP or EFRP cost shares. If unusual conditions exist, the Deputy Administrator may waive deduction of such contributions upon a request from the State committee and demonstration of the need for such a waiver.
(a) Each participant receiving cost-share assistance is responsible for the required maintenance and proper use of the practice. Some practices have an established life span or minimum period of time during which they are expected to function as a conservation practice with proper maintenance. Cost-share assistance shall not be authorized for normal upkeep or maintenance of any practice.
(b) If a practice is not properly maintained for the established life span, the participant may be required to refund all or part of cost-share assistance received. The Deputy Administrator will determine what constitutes failure to maintain a practice and the amount that must be refunded.
Costs may be shared for performance actually rendered even though the minimum requirements otherwise established for a practice have not been satisfied if a reasonable effort was made to satisfy the minimum requirements and if the practice, as performed, will adequately address the need for the practice.
In case of death, incompetency, or disappearance of any participant, any cost-share payment due shall be paid to the successor, as determined in accordance with part 707 of this chapter.
Part 11 of this title and parts 614 and 780 of this chapter apply to determinations made under this part.
Participants who perform practices shall be responsible for obtaining the authorities, permits, rights, easements, or other approvals necessary to the performance and maintenance of the practices according to applicable laws and regulations. The ECP or EFRP participant shall be wholly responsible for any actions taken with respect to the project and shall, in addition, be responsible for returning and refunding any ECP or EFRP cost shares made, where the purpose of the project cannot be accomplished because of the applicants' lack of clearances or other problems.
(a) If FSA determines that a participant has taken any action designed to defeat, or has the effect of defeating, the purposes of this program, the participant shall be required to refund all or part of any of the program payments otherwise due or paid that participant or related person or legal entity for that particular disaster. These actions include, but are not limited to, failure to properly maintain or deliberately destroying a practice and providing false or misleading information related to practices, costs, or arrangements between entities or individuals that would have an effect on any eligibility determination, including, but not limited to, a payment limit eligibility.
(b) All or any part of cost-share assistance that otherwise would be due any participant may be withheld, or required to be refunded, if the participant has adopted, or participated in, any scheme or device designed to evade the maximum cost-share limitation that applies to the program or to evade any other requirement or provision of the program or this part.
(c) If FSA determines that a participant has employed any scheme or device to deprive any other person or legal entity of cost-share assistance, or engaged in any actions to receive payments under this part that also were designed to avoid claims of the United States or its instrumentalities or agents against that party, related parties, or third parties, the participant shall refund all or part of any of those program payments paid to that participant for the project.
(d) For purposes of this section, a scheme or device can include, but is not limited to, instances of coercion, fraud, or misrepresentation regarding the claim for ECP or EFRP assistance and the facts and circumstances surrounding such claim.
(e) A participant who has knowingly supplied false information or filed a false claim shall be ineligible for cost-share assistance related to the disaster for which the false information was filed, or for any period of time FSA deems appropriate. False information or a false claim includes, but is not limited to, a request for payment for a practice not carried out, a false billing, or a billing for practices that do not meet required specifications.
In the event of voluntary or involuntary loss of control of the land by the ECP or EFRP cost-share recipient during the practice life-span, if the person or legal entity acquiring control elects not to become a successor to the ECP or EFRP agreement and the practice is not maintained, each participant who received cost-share assistance for the practice may be jointly and severally liable for refunding any ECP or EFRP cost-share assistance related to that practice. The practice life span, for purposes of this section, includes any maintenance period that is essential to its success.
Any cost-share assistance or portion thereof due any participant under this part shall be allowed without regard to questions of title under State law, and without regard to any claim or lien against any crop or property, or proceeds thereof, except liens and other claims of the United States or its instrumentalities. The regulations governing offsets and withholdings at parts 792 and 1403 of this title shall be applicable to this program and the provisions most favorable to a collection of the debt shall control.
Participants may assign ECP cost-share assistance payments, in whole or in part, according to part 1404 of this title.
Information collection requirements contained in this part have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget under the provisions at 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35 and have been assigned OMB Number 0560-0082.
Contracts for ACP that are, or were, administered under this part or similar contracts executed in connection with the Interim Environmental Quality Incentives Program, shall, unless the Deputy Administrator determines otherwise, be administered under, and be subject to, the regulations for ACP contracts and the ACP program that were contained in the 7 CFR parts 700 to 899, edition revised as of January 1, 1998, and under the terms of the agreements that were entered into with participants.
The regulations governing the FIP as of July 31, 2002, and contained in the 7 CFR parts 700 to 899, edition revised as of January 1, 2002, shall continue to apply to FIP contracts in effect as of that date, except as provided in accord with a delegation of the administration of that program and such delegation and actions taken thereunder shall apply to any other FIP matters as may be at issue or in dispute.