< Back to H.R. 2793 (104th Congress, 1995–1996)

Text of the Conservation Incentives Program Act of 1995

This bill was introduced on December 15, 1995, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Dec 15, 1995 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

HR 2793 IH

104th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 2793

To provide for the establishment and funding of a conservation incentives program to assist farmers and ranchers in developing and implementing conservation practices to protect soil, water, and related resources.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

December 15, 1995

Mr. ROSE introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Agriculture


A BILL

To provide for the establishment and funding of a conservation incentives program to assist farmers and ranchers in developing and implementing conservation practices to protect soil, water, and related resources.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) SHORT TITLE- This Act may be cited as the ‘Conservation Incentives Program Act of 1995’.

    (b) TABLE OF CONTENTS- The table of contents of this Act is as follows:

      Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

      Sec. 2. Definitions.

      Sec. 3. Establishment and administration of conservation incentive program.

      Sec. 4. Program priorities and coordination.

      Sec. 5. Duties of operators.

      Sec. 6. Duties of the secretary.

      Sec. 7. Eligible lands.

      Sec. 8. Funding.

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:

      (1) CONSERVATION PRACTICE- The term ‘conservation practice’ means a structural practice, vegetative practice, or management practice that is used to protect soil, water, and related resources and is tailored to local resource conditions.

      (2) STRUCTURAL PRACTICE- The term ‘structural practice’ means a practice or measure that is constructed, such as a waste treatment lagoon, waste storage structure, terrace, grassed waterway, and such other structures as the Secretary considers appropriate.

      (3) VEGETATIVE PRACTICE- The term ‘vegetative practice’ means a practice or measure that uses vegetation to protect soil, water, and related resources, such as the use of crop rotation, cover crops, wildlife plantings, and such other practices as the Secretary considers appropriate.

      (4) MANAGEMENT PRACTICE- The term ‘management practice’ means a practice or measure that is used to manage crops, livestock, nutrients, or pesticides, and such other practices as the Secretary considers appropriate.

      (5) PROGRAM PLAN- The term ‘program plan’ means a plan that includes an evaluation of the farm or ranch resources, a record of resource management decision made by the farmer or rancher, a schedule for implementing the plan components, a list of conservation practices eligible for cost-share and incentives, and an estimated total cost of the plan.

      (6) LARGE CONFINED LIVESTOCK OPERATIONS- The term ‘large confined livestock operation’ means a farm or ranch that--

        (A) is a confined animal feeding operation; and

        (B) has more than--

          (i) 700 mature dairy cattle;

          (ii) 1,000 beef cattle;

          (iii) 100,000 laying hens or broilers;

          (iv) 55,000 turkeys;

          (v) 2,500 swine; or

          (vi) 10,000 sheep or lambs.

      (7) OPERATOR- The term ‘operator’ means a person who is engaged in crop or livestock production as defined by the Secretary.

      (8) SECRETARY- The term ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of Agriculture.

SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT AND ADMINISTRATION OF CONSERVATION INCENTIVE PROGRAM.

    (a) ESTABLISHMENT- During the fiscal years 1996 through 2005, the Secretary shall carry out a conservation incentive program under this Act to provide technical assistance, cost-sharing payments, and incentive payments to operators who enter into contracts with the Secretary to develop and implement conservation practices.

    (b) PURPOSE- It is the purpose of the conservation incentive program--

      (1) to carry out a conservation program that uses incentives and technical assistance to solve locally identified resource problems from agricultural activities and that provides--

        (A) flexible technical and financial assistance to operators that face the most serious threats to soil, water, and related resources, including grazing lands, wetlands, and wildlife habitat;

        (B) assistance to operators in complying with Federal and State environmental laws, and encourages long term agricultural sustainability;

        (C) assistance to operators in making beneficial, cost-effective changes to cropping systems, grazing management, manure management, nutrient, pest, or irrigation management, land uses, or other measures needed to conserve and improve soil, water, and related natural resources; and

        (D) simplification of the conservation planning process to reduce administrative burdens on operators.

      (2) to complement other Federal and State programs to provide--

        (A) optimum and effective use of available Federal and State programs at the local level where resource problems exist;

        (B) coordination of the Federal and State programs through the State technical committees established under section 1261 of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3861); and

        (C) development of a performance measurement process for each local resource problem area that reflects progress in program implementation and resolution of the resource problem.

    (c) TYPES OF ASSISTANCE-

      (1) TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE- The Secretary shall use conservation incentive program funds to provide operators with technical assistance to develop a program plan and design program plan components. An operator who develops and implements a program plan approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the local conservation district shall be eligible for additional technical assistance from conservation incentive program funds, including assistance in laying out the program plan components on the farm or ranch, training on operation and maintenance of the plan components, and assistance in evaluating program plan performance.

      (2) COST-SHARE- Structural practices and vegetative practices shall be eligible for cost-share payments or technical assistance, or both, as determined by the Secretary.

      (3) INCENTIVE PAYMENTS- Management practices shall be eligible for incentive payments or technical assistance, or both, as determined by the Secretary.

    (d) CONTRACTS-

      (1) TERM AND CONDITIONS- A contract between an operator and the Secretary under the conservation incentives program may--

        (A) apply to 1 or more conservation practices;

        (B) have a term of not more than 10 years, as determined appropriate by the Secretary, depending on the conservation practice or practices covered by the contract; and

        (C) provide cost-share and incentive payments.

      (2) CONCURRENCE OF OWNER- If the operator is a tenant, the operator shall obtain the concurrence of the owner of the land before the conservation incentive program contract is accepted by the Secretary.

    (e) PROVISION OF ASSISTANCE-

      (1) LIMITATIONS ON AMOUNT OF PAYMENTS- The total amount of cost-share and incentive payments paid to a person under the conservation incentives program may not exceed--

        (A) $10,000 for any fiscal year for one year contract; or

        (B) $75,000 for any multiyear contract.

      (2) PAYMENT INCREMENTS- The Secretary shall make payments for multiyear contracts in annual increments. The entire contract obligation may be paid in one year when the operator is required to make a major initial investment based on the contract, as determined by the Secretary.

      (3) FEDERAL SHARE OF COST-SHARE PAYMENTS- The Federal share of cost-share payments to an operator proposing to implement 1 or more structural or vegetative practices, or both, as part of an approved program plan shall not receive more than 75 percent of the projected cost of the practice, as determined by the Secretary.

      (4) SPECIAL RULE FOR LIVESTOCK OPERATIONS- An operator of a large confined livestock operation shall not be eligible for cost-sharing on structural and vegetative practices to construct an animal waste management facility, but shall be eligible for incentive payments and technical assistance. An operator of a confined livestock operation, regardless of size, that has been in operation for less than 5 years shall not be eligible for cost-share on structural and vegetative practices to construct an animal waste management facility, but shall be eligible of technical assistance.

      (5) FEDERAL SHARE OF INCENTIVE PAYMENTS- The Secretary shall make incentive payments in an amount and at a rate determined by the Secretary to be necessary to encourage an operator

to perform 1 or more management practices, when necessary to attain the purposes of the conservation incentives program and in the public interest as determined by the Secretary.

      (6) FUNDING FOR TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE- The Secretary shall allocate funding for the provision of technical assistance according to the purpose and projected cost for which the technical assistance is provided in a fiscal year. The receipt of technical assistance under the conservation incentives program shall not affect the eligibility of the operator to receive technical assistance under other authorities of law available to the Secretary.

    (f) MODIFICATION OR TERMINATION OF CONTRACTS-

      (1) VOLUNTARY MODIFICATION OR TERMINATION- The Secretary may modify or terminate a contract entered into with an operator under the conservation incentives program if--

        (A) the operator agrees to the modification or termination; and

        (B) the Secretary determines that the modification or termination is in the public interest.

      (2) INVOLUNTARY TERMINATION- The Secretary may terminate a contract under the conservation incentives program if the Secretary determines that the operator violated the contract.

    (g) NON-FEDERAL ASSISTANCE- The Secretary may request the services of a State water quality agency, State fish and wildlife agency, State forestry agency, or any other governmental or private resource considered appropriate to assist in providing the technical assistance necessary for the development and implementation of a conservation practice.

    (h) REGULATIONS- Within 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall issue regulations to administrator of the conservation incentive program.

SEC. 4. PROGRAM PRIORITIES AND COORDINATION.

    (a) PRIORITIES- The Secretary shall provide technical assistance, cost-share payments, and incentive payments to operators in a region, watershed, or conservation priority area under the conservation incentives program based on the significance of the soil, water, and related natural resource problems in the region, watershed, or area.

    (b) COORDINATION OF PRIORITIES- The Secretary shall coordinate the establishment of priorities within a State or multiple States for large interstate regions with other Federal and State programs through the State technical Committee established under section 1261 of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3861) to optimize program effectiveness and maximize environmental benefits for per dollar of expenditures.

    (c) PRIORITY CRITERIA- The Secretary shall establish national criteria for selecting priority areas.

    (d) STATE AND LOCAL CONTRIBUTIONS- The Secretary shall accord a higher priority to operations located within watersheds, regions, or conservation priority areas in which State or local governments have provided or will provide, financial or technical assistance to the operators for the same conservation or environmental purposes.

    (e) PRIORITY LANDS- The Secretary shall accord a higher priority to installing conservation practices on lands on which agricultural production has been determined to contribute to, or create, the potential for failure to meet applicable water quality standards or other environmental objectives of Federal and State law.

SEC. 5. DUTIES OF OPERATORS.

    To receive technical assistance, cost-sharing payments, or incentives payments under the conservation incentives program, an operator shall agree--

      (1) to implement a program plan that describes conservation and environmental goals to be achieved through one or more conservation practices approved by the Secretary;

      (2) not to conduct any practices on the farm or ranch that would tend to defeat the purpose of the conservation incentives program;

      (3) on the violation of a term or condition of the contract at any time the operator has control of the land, to refund any cost-sharing or incentive payment received with interest, and forfeit any future payments under the conservation incentives program, as determined by the Secretary;

      (4) on the transfer of the right and interest of the operator in land subject to the contract, unless the transferee of the right and interest agrees with the Secretary to assume all obligations of the contract, to refund all cost-sharing payments and incentive payments received under the conservation incentives program, as determined by the Secretary;

      (5) to supply information as required by the Secretary to determine compliance with the program plan and requirements of the conservation incentives program; and

      (6) to comply with such additional provisions as the Secretary determines are necessary to carry out the conservation incentives program.

SEC. 6. DUTIES OF THE SECRETARY.

    To the extent appropriate, the Secretary shall assist an operator in achieving the conservation and environmental goals of a program plan--

      (1) by providing an eligibility assessment of the farming or ranching operation of the operator as a basis for developing the program plan;

      (2) by providing technical assistance in developing and implementing the program plan;

      (3) by providing technical assistance, cost-sharing payments, or incentive payments for developing and implementing conservation practices as provided in section 3;

      (4) providing the operator with information, education, and training to aid in implementation of the program plan; and

      (5) encouraging the operator to obtain technical assistance, cost-sharing payments, or grants from other Federal, State, local, or private sources.

SEC. 7. ELIGIBLE LANDS.

    Agricultural land on which one or more conservation practice shall be eligible for technical assistance, cost-sharing payments, or incentive payments under the conservation incentives program include--

      (1) agricultural land (including cropland, rangeland, pasture, and other land on which crops or livestock are produced) that the Secretary determines poses a serious threat to soil, water, or related resources by reason of the soil types, terrain, climatic, soil, topographic, flood, or shine characteristics, or other factors or natural hazards;

      (2) an area that is considered to be critical agricultural land on which either crop or livestock production is carried out, as identified in a plan submitted by the State under section 319 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1329) as having priority problems that result from an agricultural nonpoint source of pollution;

      (3) an area recommended by the State lead agency for protection of soil, water, and related resources ad designated by a Governor of a State; and

      (4) land that is not located within a designated or approve area, but that if permitted to continue to be operated under existing management practices, would defeat the purpose of the conservation incentives program, as determined by the Secretary.

SEC. 8. FUNDING.

    (a) MANDATORY EXPENSES- Secretary shall use the funds of the Commodity Credit Corporation for each of the fiscal years 1996 through 2005 to carry out the conservation incentive program, including cost-sharing payments, incentives payments, and technical assistance costs.

    (b) FUNDING LIMITATIONS- Funding for the conservation incentives program from the Commodity Credit Corporation shall be limited to $100,000,000 for fiscal year 1996 and $300,000,000 for each of fiscal years 1997 through 2005.

    (c) Distribution of Payments-

      (1) LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION- Not less than 50 percent of the funding for technical assistance, cost-sharing payments, and incentive payments under the conservation incentive program shall be for conservation practices relating to livestock production.

      (2) LIMITATION- The Secretary may allocate less than 50 percent of the total program funding level for a fiscal year for conservation practices relating to livestock production, but in no case less than 35 percent, if the Secretary determines that the 50 percent funding level is not reasonable based on need and demand as expressed by conservation incentives program participants.