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H.R. 1890 (113th): Balancing Food, Farm, and the Environment Act of 2013

The text of the bill below is as of May 8, 2013 (Introduced).


I

113th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 1890

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 8, 2013

(for himself, Mr. Farr, Mr. Kind, Mr. Moran, Ms. Slaughter, Mr. Waxman, Mr. Huffman, Mr. Dingell, Mr. George Miller of California, Ms. Lee of California, Mrs. Capps, Mr. Holt, and Mr. Ellison) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Agriculture

A BILL

To modernize the conservation title of the Food Security Act of 1985, protect long-term taxpayer investment, increase small and midsize farmer’s access to programs, and prioritize modern-day conservation needs through management practices, local engagement, and stewardship.

101.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Balancing Food, Farm, and the Environment Act of 2013 .

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 101. Short title; table of contents.

Title I—Conservation

Subtitle A—Definitions

Sec. 1001. Definitions.

Subtitle B—Highly erodible land conservation

Sec. 1101. Program ineligibility.

Sec. 1102. Exemptions.

Sec. 1103. Development and implementation of highly erodible land conservation plans and highly erodible land conservation systems.

Sec. 1104. Notice and investigation of possible compliance deficiencies.

Sec. 1105. Enforcement; funding for technical assistance.

Subtitle C—Wetland conservation

Sec. 1201. Program ineligibility.

Sec. 1202. Delineation of wetlands; exemptions.

Subtitle D—Conservation reserve

Sec. 1301. Conservation reserve.

Sec. 1302. Contracts.

Sec. 1303. Conservation reserve easement program.

Subtitle E—Conservation Stewardship Program

Sec. 1401. Definitions.

Sec. 1402. Conservation Stewardship Program.

Sec. 1403. Stewardship contracts.

Sec. 1404. Duties of the Secretary.

Subtitle F—Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Sec. 1501. Purposes.

Sec. 1502. Definitions.

Sec. 1503. Establishment and administration.

Sec. 1504. Evaluation of Applications.

Sec. 1505. Environmental quality incentives program plan.

Sec. 1506. Duties of the Secretary.

Sec. 1507. Limitation on payments.

Subtitle G—Conservation innovation grant program

Sec. 1601. Conservation innovation grant program.

Subtitle H—Funding and administration

Sec. 1701. Commodity Credit Corporation.

Sec. 1702. Conservation loan and loan guarantee program.

Subtitle I—Agricultural conservation easement program

Sec. 1801. Agricultural conservation easement program.

Subtitle J—Regional conservation partnership program

Sec. 1901. Regional conservation partnership program.

Title II—Crop insurance and disaster assistance

Sec. 2001. Ineligibility for Federal crop insurance, noninsured crop disaster assistance, and certain payments because of crop production on native sod.

Title III—Repeals and transitional provisions; technical and conforming amendments; effective date

Sec. 3001. Repeals and transitional provisions.

Sec. 3002. Technical and conforming amendments.

Sec. 3003. Effective date.

I

Conservation

A

Definitions

1001.

Definitions

(a)

Conservation system

Section 1201(a)(4) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3801(a)(4) ) is amended to read as follows:

(4)

Conservation system

The term conservation system means a combination of conservation measures or practices that are based on local natural resource and environmental conditions and are designed to cost-effectively address one or more priority resource concerns.

.

(b)

Highly erodible land

Section 1201(a)(11)(A)(ii) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3801(a)(11)(A)(ii)) is amended—

(1)

by striking excessive before average annual rate;

(2)

by striking in relation to and inserting exceeding; and

(3)

by inserting revised before universal soil loss.

(c)

Comprehensive conservation plan; conservation outcome; highly erodible land conservation plan; highly erodible land conservation system; nutrient-Impacted watershed; priority resource concern

Section 1201(a) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3801(a) ) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraphs:

(28)

Comprehensive conservation plan

The term comprehensive conservation plan means a document that, subject to the unique purposes of each conservation program—

(A)

identifies priority resource concerns that can be effectively addressed through conservation activities, practices, systems, and management measures on an agricultural operation;

(B)

inventories natural resource and environmental conditions related to priority resource concerns and establishes benchmark data and conservation objectives;

(C)

determines the most cost-effective conservation activities, practices, systems, and management measures to be implemented, improved or maintained to address the designated priority resource concerns;

(D)

provides a schedule for planning, implementing, improving, or maintaining the identified conservation activities, practices, systems, and management measures; and

(E)

contains a description and schedule for on-farm activities to evaluate the extent to which the planned conservation activities, practices, systems, and management measures are effectively improving the condition of priority resource concerns.

(29)

Conservation outcome

The term conservation outcome means a natural resource or environmental change that is that is correlated with conservation activities.

(30)

Highly erodible land conservation plan

The term highly erodible land conservation plan means the document that—

(A)

applies to highly erodible land;

(B)

describes the highly erodible land conservation system applicable to the highly erodible land and describes the decisions of the person with respect to location, land use, tillage systems, and conservation treatment measures and schedule; and

(C)

is approved by the local soil conservation district, in consultation with the local committees established under section 8(b)(5) of the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act ( 16 U.S.C. 590h(b)(5) ) and the Secretary, or by the Secretary.

(31)

Highly erodible land conservation system

The term highly erodible land conservation system means a combination of 1 or more conservation measures or management practices that—

(A)

are based on local resource conditions, available conservation technology, and the standards and guidelines contained in the Natural Resources Conservation Service field office technical guides;

(B)

are designed to achieve, in a cost effective and technically practicable manner, a substantial reduction in soil erosion or a substantial improvement in soil conditions on a field or group of fields containing highly erodible land when compared to the level of erosion or soil conditions that existed before the application of the conservation measures and management practices;

(C)

at a minimum are designed to achieve, within five years of actively applying a highly erodible land conservation plan, a level of erosion not to exceed twice the soil loss tolerance level; and

(D)

effectively treat all ephemeral gullies.

(32)

Nutrient-impacted watershed

The term nutrient-impacted watershed means a watershed, including its surface and ground waters, any portion of which the Secretary, in consultation with officials from State water quality agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the United States Geological Survey, determines to be degraded, or contributing to the degradation of downstream waters, due to the presence of excess agricultural nutrients.

(33)

Priority resource concern

The term priority resource concern means a specific impairment to soil, soil quality, water quality, water quantity, energy, air quality, biodiversity, or fish, wildlife, or pollinator habitat, that, as determined by the Secretary

(A)

represents a significant environmental, human health, or sustainable agricultural production concern in a State, region, or watershed;

(B)

is likely to be addressed successfully through implementation of conservation systems, practices, or activities by producers on land eligible for enrollment in one or more programs under this title; and

(C)

if successfully addressed will substantially contribute to the achievement of the purposes of the relevant program or programs under this title.

.

B

Highly erodible land conservation

1101.

Program ineligibility

Section 1211(a)(1) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3811(a)(1) ) is amended—

(1)

in subparagraph (A)

(A)

by inserting or revenue after price; and

(B)

by inserting the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 8701 et seq.), before or any other Act;

(2)

in subparagraph (C), by striking ; or and inserting a semicolon;

(3)

in subparagraph (D)

(A)

by striking Consolidated before Farm Service Agency; and

(B)

by striking the semicolon and inserting ; or; and

(4)

by inserting after subparagraph (D) the following new subparagraph:

(E)

any portion of the premium paid by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation for a policy or plan of insurance under the Federal Crop Insurance Act (7 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.).

.

1102.

Exemptions

Section 1212(a) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3812(a) ) is amended—

(1)

by inserting highly erodible land before conservation plan each place it appears;

(2)

in subsection (a)

(A)

in paragraph (1)

(i)

by striking Soil Conservation Service and inserting Natural Resources Conservation Service; and

(ii)

by inserting , or premium subsidies, after loans, payments, and benefits;

(B)

by amending paragraph (2) to read as follows:

(2)

Eligibility based on compliance with highly erodible land conservation plan

(A)

In general

If, as of January 1, 1990, or 2 years after the Soil Natural Resources Conservation Service has completed a soil survey for the farm, whichever is later, a person is actively applying a highly erodible land conservation plan, such person shall have until January 1, 1995, to comply with the plan without being subject to program ineligibility.

(B)

Minimization of documentation

In carrying out this subsection, the Secretary, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and local soil conservation districts shall minimize the quantity of documentation a person must submit to comply with this paragraph.

(C)

Crop insurance

If a person first becomes subject to section 1211(a) solely due to a premium payment described in paragraph (1)(E) of such section, the person shall have until January 1 of the fifth year beginning after the date on which the person first became subject to such section to develop and comply with an approved highly erodible land conservation plan for the land on which the person produces an agricultural commodity covered by a policy or plan of insurance supported by such premium payment.

; and

(C)

in paragraph (3)

(i)

by striking only after subtitle D shall; and

(ii)

by striking . The person shall not be required to meet a higher conservation standard than and inserting consistent with;

(3)

in subsection (b), by inserting , or premium subsidies, after and benefits;

(4)

in subsection (c)

(A)

in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by inserting , or premium subsidies, after and benefits;

(B)

in paragraph (1), by inserting highly erodible land before conservation system each place it appears; and

(C)

in paragraphs (1), (2), and (3), by striking Soil Conservation Service each place it appears and inserting Natural Resources Conservation Service;

(5)

in subsection (f)

(A)

in paragraph (1), by inserting , or premium subsidies, after benefits; and

(B)

in paragraph (4)(B), by inserting and premium subsidies after benefits; and

(6)

in subsection (g) by amending paragraph (2) to read as follows:

(2)

concerning conservation technical and financial assistance options and conservation loan options that may be available to such individual to meet the requirements of this section.

.

1103.

Development and implementation of highly erodible land conservation plans and highly erodible land conservation systems

(a)

Highly erodible land

Section 1213 of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3812a ) is amended—

(1)

in the header, by striking conservation plans and conservation systems and inserting highly erodible land conservation plans and highly erodible land conservation systems ;

(2)

by inserting highly erodible land before conservation plan each place it appears; and

(3)

by inserting highly erodible land before conservation system each place it appears.

(b)

Technical requirements

Section 1213(a)(4) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3812a(a)(4) ) is amended by inserting , taking into account the assistance described in section 1212(g)(2) .

(c)

Certification of compliance

Section 1213(d)(2) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3812a(d)(2) ) is amended by striking If a person and inserting Except as necessary to carry out section 1216, if a person.

1104.

Notice and investigation of possible compliance deficiencies

Section 1215 of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3814 ) is amended—

(1)

by inserting highly erodible land before conservation plan each place it appears;

(2)

in subsection (a), by inserting carrying out an inspection under section 1216 or before providing on-site technical assistance; and

(3)

in subsection (c), by striking may and inserting shall.

1105.

Enforcement; funding for technical assistance

Subtitle B of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3811 et seq. ) is amended by adding at the end the following new sections:

1216.

Enforcement of compliance with highly erodible land conservation plans

(a)

In general

The Secretary shall, to the extent possible, inspect annually at least five percent of the lands subject to compliance with highly erodible land conservation plans and for which the owner or operator is receiving a benefit described in section 1211(a), specifically for the purpose of certifying compliance with the highly erodible land conservation plan and eligibility for such benefits.

(b)

Annual report to Congress

Not later than March 1 of each year following the year of enactment of this provision, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report detailing the number of acres inspected for compliance with highly erodible land conservation plans, the number and type of infractions found, and the corrective or enforcement actions, including reviews conducted under section 1215(c) and graduated penalties imposed under section 1212(f), associated with each, including the agency’s justifications for each action. The report may include other pertinent information regarding compliance and enforcement, as determined by the Secretary.

1217.

Funding for technical assistance

The Secretary shall make available a portion of the administrative and technical assistance funding provided to administer the benefits described in section 1211(a) to be used for technical assistance, monitoring, and enforcement associated with highly erodible land conservation. Funds shall be drawn from each program in proportion to the relative funding of each individual program.

.

C

Wetland conservation

1201.

Program ineligibility

(a)

Production on covered wetland

Section 1221(a) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3821(a) ) is amended—

(1)

in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by inserting after the effective date of the Balancing Food, Farm, and the Environment Act of 2013 , before any person who; and

(2)

in paragraph (2), by striking an amount determined by the Secretary to be proportionate to the severity of the violation and inserting accordance with subsection (b) .

(b)

Ineligibility for certain loans and payments

Section 1221(b) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3821(b) ) is amended—

(1)

in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking the Secretary shall determine which of, and the amount of, the following loans and payments for which the person shall be ineligible and inserting the person shall be ineligible for the following loans and payments; and

(2)

by striking paragraphs (1) and (2) and inserting the following:

(1)

As to any commodity produced during the crop year by such person—

(A)

contract payments under a production flexibility contract, marketing assistance loans, and any type of price or revenue support or payment made available under the Agricultural Market Transition Act ( 7 U.S.C. 7201 et seq. ), the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act ( 15 U.S.C. 714 et seq. ), the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 ( 7 U.S.C. 8701 et seq. ), or any other Act;

(B)

a farm storage facility loan made under section 4(h) of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act ( 15 U.S.C. 714b(h) );

(C)

a loan made, insured, or guaranteed under the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (7 U.S.C. 1921 et seq.) or any other provision of law administered by the Consolidated Farm Service Agency, if the Secretary determines that the proceeds of such loan will be used for a purpose that will contribute to excessive erosion of highly erodible land; or

(D)

any portion of the premium paid by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation for a policy or plan of insurance under the Federal Crop Insurance Act ( 7 U.S.C. 1501 et seq. ).

(2)

A payment made under section 4 or 5 of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act (15 U.S.C. 714b or 714c) during such crop year for the storage of an agricultural commodity acquired by the Commodity Credit Corporation.

.

1202.

Delineation of wetlands; exemptions

(a)

Exemptions

Section 1222(b) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3822(b) ) is amended—

(1)

in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by inserting , or premium subsidies, after or payments; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(3)

In the case of payments that are subject to section 1221 for the first time due to the amendments made by section 1201(b) of the Balancing Food, Farm, and the Environment Act of 2013 , a wetland that was converted after April 4, 1996 and before October 1, 2013, on land that is the basis of the payments, provided the person in control of the land is and has been otherwise in compliance with section 1221.

.

(b)

On-Site inspection requirement

Section 1222(c) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3822(c) ) is amended by striking , or benefits and inserting , benefits, or premium subsidies.

(c)

Good faith exemption

Section 1222(h)(1) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3822(h)) is amended to read as follows:

(1)

Graduated penalties

If a person is in violation of section 1221 but has acted in good faith and without an intent to violate such section, as determined by the Secretary, the Secretary may, in lieu of applying the ineligibility provisions of section 1221(b), reduce program benefits and premium subsidies described in such section 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.

.

(d)

Eligibility for crop insurance

Section 1222 of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3822 ) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(l)

Eligibility for crop insurance

In the case of payments that are subject to section 1221 for the first time due to the amendments made by section 1201(b) of the Balancing Food, Farm, and the Environment Act of 2013 , no person who plants or produces an agricultural commodity on a converted wetland on land that is the basis of the payments shall be ineligible under section 1221 for program loans or payments, or premium subsidies, unless the person fails to mitigate for the loss of wetland values, acreage, and function in accordance with subparagraphs (A) through (G) of subsection (f)(2) by the end of the 24-month period following the date on which the payments became subject to section 1221.

.

D

Conservation reserve

1301.

Conservation reserve

(a)

In general

Section 1231(a) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3831(a) ) is amended—

(1)

by striking 2012 and inserting 2018; and

(2)

by inserting or easements after contracts.

(b)

Eligible land

Section 1231(b) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3831(b) ) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1)(B), by striking the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 and inserting Balancing Food, Farm, and the Environment Act of 2013 ;

(2)

by striking paragraph (2) and inserting the following new paragraph:

(3)

grassland that—

(A)

contains forbs or shrubland (including improved rangeland and pastureland) for which grazing is the predominant use;

(B)

is located in an area historically dominated by grassland; and

(C)

could provide habitat for animal or plant populations of significant ecological value, or corridors to facilitate wildlife movement and migration, if the land is retained in its current use or restored to a natural condition;

; and

(3)

in paragraph (4)

(A)

in subparagraph (C)

(i)

by inserting , wildlife habitat buffers, shallow water areas for wildlife after permanent wildlife habitat;

(ii)

by inserting , wetland buffers, riparian buffers after shelterbelts; and

(iii)

by striking devoted to trees or shrubs;

(B)

by redesignating subparagraphs (D) and (E) as subparagraphs (E) and (F), respectively; and

(C)

by inserting after subparagraph (C) the following new subparagraph:

(D)

the land will be devoted to nutrient-trapping conservation practices approved by the Secretary used in association with a newly created or existing conservation buffer practice;

.

(c)

Planting status of certain land; maximum enrollment

Subsections (c) and (d) of section 1231 of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3831 ) are amended to read as follows:

(c)

Planting status of certain land

For purposes of determining the eligibility of land to be placed in the conservation reserve established under this subchapter, land shall be considered to be planted to an agricultural commodity during a crop year if, during the crop year, the land was devoted to a conserving use.

(d)

Maximum enrollment

(1)

In general

The Secretary may maintain in the conservation reserve at any 1 time during—

(A)

fiscal year 2014, no more than 26,000,000 acres;

(B)

fiscal year 2015, no more than 25,000,000 acres;

(C)

fiscal year 2016, no more than 24,000,000 acres; and

(D)

fiscal years 2017 and 2018, no more than 23,000,000 acres.

(2)

Reservation

The Secretary, to the maximum extent feasible, shall manage the conservation reserve to ensure that on an annual basis not less than 600,000 acres are available for new enrollments of eligible land—

(A)

described in subparagraphs (B) through (F) of subsection (b)(4); and

(B)

enrolled under the special conservation reserve enhancement program authority under section 1234(f)(4).

(3)

Priority

The Secretary shall give priority to enrollments under the reservation in paragraph (2) to land located in nutrient-impacted watersheds for which the enrollment would reduce nutrient loadings, as determined by the Secretary.

(4)

Consideration

In applying paragraph (3), the Secretary shall take into consideration the effects that may exist of any drainage infrastructure on the potential to reduce nutrient loadings.

.

1302.

Contracts

(a)

Modifications

Section 1235(c)(1)(B)(iii) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3835(c)(1)(B)(iii) ) is amended to read as follows:

(iii)

to facilitate a transition of land subject to the contract from a retired or retiring owner or operator to a beginning farmer or rancher, socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher, or limited resource farmer or rancher who is or will be actively engaged in farming or ranching with respect to the land transferred under this subsection, for the purpose of returning some or all of the land into production using sustainable grazing or crop production methods that meet or exceed the resource management system quality criteria for erosion, soil quality, water quality, and fish and wildlife; or

.

(b)

Transition option for certain farmers or ranchers

Section 1235(f)(1) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3835(f)(1) ) is amended—

(1)

in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by striking or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher and inserting socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher, or limited resource farmer or rancher who is or will be actively engaged in farming or ranching with respect to the land transferred under this subsection;

(2)

in subparagraph (A)

(A)

in clause (i), by striking ; and and inserting a semicolon;

(B)

in clause (ii), by striking the semicolon and inserting ; and; and

(C)

by adding at the end the following new clauses:

(iv)

provide to the covered farmer or rancher an opportunity to enroll in the conservation stewardship program or the environmental quality incentives program at any time beginning on the date that is 1 year before the date of termination of the contract, including technical and financial assistance in the development of a comprehensive conservation plan; and

(v)

if the land transferred under this subsection remains in grass cover, provide to the covered farmer or rancher an opportunity to enroll in a long-term or permanent easement under the agricultural conservation easement program;

;

(3)

in subparagraph (B), by inserting comprehensive before conservation plan;

(4)

by striking subparagraph (D) and redesignating subparagraph (E) as subparagraph (D); and

(5)

in subparagraph (D) (as so redesignated), by striking , if the retired or retiring owner or operator is not a family member (as defined in section 1001A(b)(3)(B) of this Act) of the covered farmer or rancher and inserting except that, in the case of a retired or retiring owner or operator who is a family member (as defined in section 1001) of the covered farmer or rancher, the additional payments shall be made only if title to the land is sold or otherwise transferred to the covered farmer or rancher on termination of the contract.

1303.

Conservation reserve easement program

Subchapter B of chapter 1 of subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3831 et seq. ) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

1236.

Conservation reserve easement program

(a)

Establishment

The Secretary shall formulate and carry out a conservation reserve easement program (hereafter in this section referred to as the easement program) in accordance with this section, through the acquisition of permanent easements or easements for the maximum term permitted under applicable State law from willing owners of eligible farms or ranches in order to ensure the continued long-term protection of environmentally sensitive lands, reduction in the degradation of water quality, and enhancement of wildlife habitat on such farms or ranches through the continued conservation and improvement of soil and water resources.

(b)

Eligibility; termination

(1)

In general

Except as provided in paragraph (2), the Secretary may acquire easements under this section on eligible land placed in the conservation reserve under this subchapter that—

(A)

is determined by the Secretary to be unsuitable for long-term commodity production;

(B)

is an area of critical habitat for wildlife, especially threatened or endangered species; or

(C)

contains other environmentally sensitive areas, as determined by the Secretary, that would prevent a producer from complying with other Federal, State, or local environmental goals if commodities were to be produced on such land.

(2)

Ineligible land

The Secretary may not acquire easements on—

(A)

land that contains timber stands established under this subchapter; or

(B)

pasture land established to trees under this subchapter.

(3)

Termination of existing contract

The Secretary may terminate or modify any existing contract entered into under section 1231(a) if eligible land that is subject to such contract is transferred into the easement program.

(c)

Duties of owners

(1)

Plan

(A)

In general

In conjunction with the creation of an easement on any lands under this section, the owner of the farm or ranch wherein such lands are located must agree to implement a natural resource conservation management plan in accordance with subparagraph (B) and approved by the Secretary.

(B)

Components

A natural resource conservation management plan shall—

(i)

set forth the conservation measures and practices to be carried out by the owner of the land subject to the easement;

(ii)

set forth the commercial use, if any, to be permitted on such land during the term of the easement; and

(iii)

provide for the permanent retirement of any existing cropland base and allotment history for such land under any program administered by the Secretary.

(2)

Agreement

In return for the creation of an easement on any lands under this section, the owner of the farm or ranch wherein such lands are located must agree to the following:

(A)

To the creation and recordation of an appropriate deed restriction, in accordance with applicable State law, to reflect the easement agreed to under this section with respect to such lands.

(B)

To provide a written statement of consent to such easement signed by those holding a security interest in the land.

(C)

To comply with such additional provisions as the Secretary determines are desirable and are included in the easement to carry out this section or to facilitate the practical administration thereof.

(D)

To limit the production of any agricultural commodity on such lands only to production for the benefit of wildlife.

(E)

Not to conduct any harvesting or grazing, nor otherwise make commercial use of the forage, on land that is subject to the easement, unless specifically provided for in the easement or related agreement.

(F)

Not to adopt any other practice that would tend to defeat the purposes of this chapter, as determined by the Secretary.

(3)

Violation

On the violation of the terms or conditions of the easement or related agreement entered into under this section, the easement shall remain in force and the Secretary may require the owner to refund all or part of any payments received by the owner under this section, together with interest thereon as determined appropriate by the Secretary.

(d)

Duties of the secretary

In return for the granting of an easement by an owner under this section, the Secretary shall—

(1)

share the cost of carrying out the establishment of conservation measures and practices set forth in the plan described in section 1232(a)(1) for which the Secretary determines that cost sharing is appropriate and in the public interest;

(2)

pay for a period not to exceed 10 years annual easement payments in the aggregate not to exceed the lesser of—

(A)

$250,000; or

(B)

the difference in the value of the land with and without the easement;

(3)

provide necessary technical assistance to assist owners in complying with the terms and conditions of the easement and the comprehensive conservation plan; and

(4)

permit the land to be used for wildlife activities, including hunting and fishing, if such use is permitted by the owner.

(e)

Time of payment

The Secretary shall provide payment for obligations incurred by the Secretary under this section—

(1)

with respect to any cost sharing obligation, as soon as possible after the obligation is incurred; and

(2)

with respect to any annual easement payment obligation, as soon as possible after October 1 of each year.

(f)

Cost sharing payments

In making cost sharing payments to owners under this section, the Secretary may pay up to 100 percent of the cost of establishing conservation measures and practices pursuant to this section.

(g)

Easement payments

(1)

Determination of amount

The Secretary shall determine the amount payable to owners in the form of easement payments under this section, and in making such determination may consider, among other things, the amount necessary to encourage owners to participate in the easement program.

(2)

Acceptability of offers

In determining the acceptability of easement offers, the Secretary may take into consideration—

(A)

the extent to which the purposes of the easement program would be achieved on the land;

(B)

the productivity of the land; and

(C)

the on-farm and off-farm environmental threats if the land is used for the production of agricultural commodities.

(3)

Priority

The Secretary shall prioritize offers that maximize the environmental goals of the easement program, particularly regarding improvements to water quality, wildlife habitat and corridors, and water conservation. Priority may also be given to easements that are part of a cooperative conservation effort to address priority resource concerns on a regional or watershed scale, or that are adjacent to existing conservation lands.

(h)

Payments to others

If an owner who is entitled to a payment under this section dies, becomes incompetent, is otherwise unable to receive such payment, or is succeeded by another person who renders or completes the required performance, the Secretary shall make such payment, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary and without regard to any other provision of law, in such manner as the Secretary determines is fair and reasonable in light of all of the circumstances.

(i)

Modification

The Secretary may modify an easement acquired from, or a related agreement with, an owner under this section if—

(1)

the current owner of the land agrees to such modification; and

(2)

the Secretary determines that such modification is desirable—

(A)

to carry out this section;

(B)

to facilitate the practical administration of this section; or

(C)

to achieve such other goals as the Secretary determines are appropriate and consistent with this section.

(j)

Termination

The Secretary may terminate an easement created with an owner under this section if—

(1)

the current owner of the land agrees to such termination; and

(2)

the Secretary determines that such termination would be in the public interest.

.

E

Conservation Stewardship Program

1401.

Definitions

(a)

Conservation activities

(1)

In general

Section 1238D(1)(A) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838d(1)(A) ) is amended by striking a resource concern and inserting one or more resource concerns.

(2)

Inclusions

Section 1238D(1)(B) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838d(1)(B) ) is amended to read as follows:

(B)

Inclusions

The term conservation activities includes—

(i)

vegetative measures and land management measures, including integrated pest, nutrient, crop residue, and managed rotational grazing management measures, as determined by the Secretary;

(ii)

structural measures that are integrated with and essential to the successful implementation of such vegetative and land management measures;

(iii)

planning needed to address a resource concern; and

(iv)

development of a comprehensive conservation plan.

.

(b)

Conservation measurement tools

Section 1238D(2) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838d(2) ) is amended by inserting natural resource and before environmental benefit.

(c)

Priority resource concern

Section 1238D of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838d ) is amended by striking paragraphs (4) and (6) and redesignating paragraphs (5) and (7) as paragraphs (4) and (5), respectively.

(d)

Stewardship threshold

Section 1238D(5) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (as so redesignated) is amended to read as follows:

(5)

Stewardship threshold

The term stewardship threshold means the level of natural resource conservation and environmental management required to address and improve upon a priority resource concern, as determined by the Secretary using—

(A)

conservation measurement tools;

(B)

the resource management system quality criteria for the particular priority resource concerns;

(C)

data from past and current program enrollments; and

(D)

other similar means to measure improvement and conservation of the priority resource concern.

.

1402.

Conservation Stewardship Program

(a)

Establishment and purpose

Section 1238E(a) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838e(a) ) is amended in the matter preceding paragraph (1)

(1)

by striking 2009 through 2014 and inserting 2013 through 2018; and

(2)

by striking resource concerns and inserting priority resource concerns and improve and conserve the quality and condition of natural resources.

(b)

Eligible land

Section 1238E(b) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838e(b) ) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1)

(A)

in subparagraph (D), by inserting priority before resource concerns; and

(B)

by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

(E)

Nonindustrial private forest land.

; and

(2)

by striking paragraph (2) and redesignating paragraph (3) as paragraph (2).

(c)

Exclusions

(1)

Land enrolled in other conservation programs

Section 1238E(c)(1) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838e(c)(1) ) is amended—

(A)

in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by striking be eligible for enrollment in the program and inserting eligible for enrollment in the program and shall not be considered part of the agricultural operation of the producer for purposes of the program; and

(B)

by amending subparagraph (A) to read as follows:

(A)

Land enrolled in the conservation reserve program, unless—

(i)

the applicant’s conservation reserve program contract will expire at the end of the fiscal year in which the applicant applies for enrollment in the program; and

(ii)

conservation reserve program payments for land enrolled in the program cease before the first conservation stewardship program payment is made to the applicant.

.

(2)

Transition

Section 1238E(c) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838e(c) ) is amended by redesignating paragraph (2) as paragraph (3) and inserting after paragraph (1) the following new paragraph:

(2)

Transition

The Secretary may permit land described in paragraph (1)(A) to be prepared for production as a grazing operation prior to the expiration of the conservation reserve program contract when a conservation stewardship contract has been approved, if no production takes place until after the expiration of the conservation reserve program contract.

.

(3)

Conversion to cropland

Section 1238E(c)(2) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838e(c)(2) ) is amended by striking the date of enactment of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 and inserting October 1, 2013.

1403.

Stewardship contracts

(a)

Submission of contract offers

Section 1238F(a) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838f(a) ) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1)

(A)

by inserting or exceeding before the stewardship threshold; and

(B)

by striking one resource concern and inserting 2 priority resource concerns; and

(2)

by amending paragraph (2) to read as follows:

(2)

would, at a minimum, meet or exceed the stewardship threshold for at least 1 additional priority resource concern by the end of the stewardship contract by—

(A)

installing and adopting additional conservation activities;

(B)

improving, maintaining, and managing conservation activities on the agricultural operation of the producer in a manner that increases or extends the conservation benefits in place at the time the contract offer is accepted by the Secretary; and

(C)

if applicable, describing the resource-conserving crop rotation, managed intensive rotation grazing system, or transition to organic crop or livestock systems the producer agrees to improve, maintain, and manage, or install and adopt, during the term of the conservation stewardship contract.

.

(b)

Evaluation of contract offers

Section 1238F(b)(1) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838f(b)(1) ) is amended to read as follows:

(1)

Ranking of applications

In evaluating contract offers made by producers to enter into contracts under the program, the Secretary shall rank applications based on—

(A)

the level of conservation and environmental benefits resulting from all conservation activities to be covered by the contract, including conservation activities proposed to be commenced as a result of the contract, on all applicable priority resource concerns, based to the maximum extent practicable on conservation measurement tools; and

(B)

in the event of a tie in ranking scores between two or more applications, the extent to which the actual and anticipated environmental benefits from the contract are provided at the least cost.

.

(c)

Entering into contracts

Section 1238F(c) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838f(c) ) is amended to read as follows:

(c)

Entering into contracts

(1)

In general

After a determination that a producer is eligible for the program under subsection (a), and a determination that the contract offer ranks sufficiently high under the evaluation criteria under subsection (b), the Secretary shall enter into a conservation stewardship contract with the producer to enroll the land to be covered by the contract.

(2)

Financial obligation

Consistent with section 1238G(e)(4), a contract entered into under paragraph (1) shall not create an obligation for financial assistance until the first October 1 after the contract is entered into.

.

(d)

Contract renewal

Section 1238F(e) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838f(e) ) is amended to read as follows:

(e)

Contract renewal

At the end of a conservation stewardship contract of a producer, the Secretary may allow the producer to renew the contract for an additional five-year period if the producer—

(1)

demonstrates compliance with the terms of the existing contract;

(2)

agrees to adopt new or improved conservation activities, as determined by the Secretary; and

(3)

has met or exceeded, or agrees to meet or exceed, the stewardship threshold for all priority resource concerns identified for the region or area in which the land that is subject to the contract is located.

.

(e)

Modification

Section 1238F(f) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838f(f) ) is amended to read as follows:

(f)

Modification

(1)

In general

The Secretary may allow a producer to modify a stewardship contract if the Secretary determines that the modification is consistent with achieving the purposes of the program.

(2)

Changes in control of land

The Secretary shall allow a producer to add or subtract from the contract land over which the producer loses or gains control, respectively, during the contract period if such modification is consistent with achieving the purposes of the program and if the Secretary determines that the resulting natural resource and environmental benefits would equal or exceed the original contract.

.

(f)

Coordination with organic certification

Section 1238F(h) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838f(h) ) is amended by inserting or maintain after may initiate.

(g)

On-Farm research and demonstration or pilot testing

Section 1238F of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838f ) is amended by striking subsection (i).

1404.

Duties of the Secretary

(a)

In general

Section 1238G(a) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838g(a) ) is amended to read as follows:

(a)

In general

To achieve the conservation goals of a contract under the conservation stewardship program, the Secretary shall—

(1)

make the program available to eligible producers on a continuous enrollment basis with 1 or more ranking periods, one of which shall occur in the first third of each fiscal year;

(2)

identify priority resource concerns in a particular watershed or other appropriate region or area within a State;

(3)

for any region or area that includes any part of a nutrient-impacted watershed (as determined by the Secretary), ensure that one of the priority resource concerns identified under paragraph (2) is water pollution caused by excess nutrient loads;

(4)

develop reliable conservation measurement tools for purposes of carrying out the program; and

(5)

ensure that conservation measurement tools are transparent and available to producers by—

(A)

making interactive, user-friendly conservation measurement tools publically available online;

(B)

making conservation activity natural resource and environmental benefit scores available in an easy to understand format for study both before and during application; and

(C)

taking other similar steps, as determined by the Secretary.

.

(b)

Allocation to States

Section 1238G(b) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838g(b) ) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1), by striking primarily; and

(2)

in paragraph (2), in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by striking also.

(c)

Acreage enrollment limitation

Section 1238G(d) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838g(d) ) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1), by striking 12,769,000 and inserting 10,000,000; and

(2)

in paragraph (2), by striking $18 and inserting $23.

(d)

Conservation stewardship payments

(1)

Availability of payments

Section 1238G(e)(1)(B) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838g(e)(1)(B) ) is amended by striking at the operation of the producer and inserting on the agricultural operation of the producer.

(2)

Payment amount

Section 1238G(e)(2) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838g(e)(2) ) is amended to read as follows:

(2)

Payment amount

(A)

In general

The amount of the conservation stewardship payment shall be determined by the Secretary and based, to the maximum extent practicable, on the following factors:

(i)

Costs incurred by the producer associated with planning, design, materials, installation, labor, management, maintenance, or training.

(ii)

Income forgone by the producer.

(iii)

Expected natural resource and environmental benefits resulting from existing and proposed conservation treatment, based to the maximum extent possible on conservation measurement tools.

(B)

Payment differential

In applying subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall, where applicable, differentiate between—

(i)

improving, maintaining, and managing conservation activities in place on the agricultural operation at the time the contract offer is accepted by the Secretary; and

(ii)

installing and adopting additional conservation activities on the agricultural operation.

.

(3)

Minimum payment

Section 1238G(e) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838g(e) ) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(5)

Minimum payment

(A)

In general

A payment to a producer under this subsection shall be not less than $1,500 per year.

(B)

Comprehensive contract

If a contract requires a comprehensive conservation plan the implementation of which will, by the end of the contract term, meet or exceed the stewardship threshold for all priority resource concerns, the minimum payment shall be not less than $3,000.

.

(e)

Supplemental payments for resource-Conserving crop rotations

Section 1238G(f) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838g(f) ) is amended to read as follows:

(f)

Supplemental payments for resource-Conserving crop rotations, managed intensive rotational grazing, and transition to organic crop or livestock systems

(1)

Availability of payments

The Secretary shall provide additional payments to producers that, in participating in the program, agree to—

(A)

improve, maintain, and manage, or adopt and maintain—

(i)

resource-conserving crop rotations; or

(ii)

managed intensive rotational grazing; or

(B)

transition to organic crop or livestock systems.

(2)

Resource-conserving crop rotation

In this subsection, the term resource-conserving crop rotation means a crop rotation that—

(A)

includes at least 1 resource conserving crop (as defined by the Secretary);

(B)

reduces erosion;

(C)

improves water quality;

(D)

improves soil fertility and tilth;

(E)

interrupts pest cycles; and

(F)

in applicable areas, reduces depletion of soil moisture or otherwise reduces the need for irrigation.

(3)

Managed intensive rotational grazing

In this subsection, the term managed intensive rotational grazing means a system in which animals are regularly and systematically moved to fresh pasture in such a way as to—

(A)

maximize the quantity and quality of forage growth;

(B)

improve manure distribution and nutrient cycling;

(C)

increase carbon sequestration from greater forage harvest;

(D)

improve the quantity and quality of cover for wildlife;

(E)

provide permanent cover to protect the soil from erosion; and

(F)

improve water quality.

(4)

Transition to organic crop or livestock systems

In this subsection, the term transition to organic crop or livestock systems means adoption of conservation activities for certified organic production on land or for herds not previously certified organic that meet all the requirements of the program and that are consistent with the regulations promulgated under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.).

.

(f)

Payment limitations

Section 1238G(g) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838g(g) ) is amended to read as follows:

(g)

Payment limitations

(1)

In general

A person or legal entity may not receive, directly or indirectly, payments under this subchapter that, in the aggregate, exceed $200,000 for all contracts entered into during any 5-year period, excluding funding arrangements with federally recognized Indian tribes or Alaska Native corporations, regardless of the number of contracts entered into under the program by the person or entity.

(2)

Acreage

Any acres enrolled in the program that will not receive payments due to the limitation in paragraph (1) shall not be counted toward the acreage limitation in subsection (d)(1).

.

(g)

Regulations

Section 1238G(h) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838g(h) ) is amended by redesignating paragraphs (1) and (2) as paragraphs (2) and (3), respectively, and by inserting before paragraph (2) (as so redesignated) the following new paragraph:

(1)

require participants in the program to be actively engaged in farming or ranching;

.

(h)

Data

Section 1238G(i) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838g(i) ) is amended to read as follows:

(i)

Data

The Secretary shall maintain detailed and segmented data on contracts and payments under the program to allow, at a minimum, with respect to each contract—

(1)

quantification of the type and extent of conservation activities for which payments were made;

(2)

quantification of the amount of payments made for—

(A)

the installation and adoption of additional conservation activities and improvements to conservation activities in place on the operation of a producer at the time the conservation stewardship offer is accepted by the Secretary; and

(B)

the maintenance of existing conservation activities; and

(3)

identification of the watershed and county in which the agricultural operation receiving payments is located.

.

(i)

Payments for conservation activities related to organic production

Section 1238G of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838g ) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(g)

Payments for conservation activities related to organic production

(1)

In general

The Secretary shall provide payments for conservation activities related to organic production.

(2)

Eligibility requirements

As a condition for receiving payments under the program, a producer shall agree to develop and implement conservation activities for certified organic production that are consistent with the regulations promulgated under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.) and the purposes of the program.

(3)

Planning

(A)

In general

The Secretary shall provide planning assistance to producers transitioning to certified organic production consistent with the requirements of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.) and the purposes of this subchapter.

(B)

Avoidance of duplication

The Secretary shall, to the maximum extent practicable, eliminate duplication of planning activities for a producer participating in a contract under this subchapter and initiating or maintaining organic certification consistent with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.).

.

(j)

Comprehensive conservation planning

Section 1238G of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838g ), as amended by subsection (i), is further amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(h)

Comprehensive conservation planning

The Secretary shall provide technical and financial assistance to producers under the program to develop a comprehensive conservation plan for the agricultural operation of the producer.

.

F

Environmental Quality Incentives Program

1501.

Purposes

Section 1240 of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa ) is amended to read as follows:

1240.

Purposes

The purpose of the environmental quality incentives program established by this chapter is to assist producers in implementing conservation systems, practices, and activities on their operations in order to—

(1)

improve water quality, with special emphasis on reducing nutrient pollution and protecting sources of drinking water;

(2)

avoid, to the maximum extent practicable, the need for resource and regulatory programs by assisting producers in protecting soil, water, air, and related natural resources and meeting environmental quality criteria established by Federal, State, tribal, and local agencies;

(3)

conserve ground and surface water to sustain or improve in-stream flows;

(4)

enhance soil quality;

(5)

control invasive species;

(6)

enhance critical aquatic and terrestrial wildlife habitat for at-risk species;

(7)

reduce the amount and toxicity of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals found on food and in water or the air;

(8)

reduce the nontherapeutic use of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals in order to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics used in the treatment of human and animal disease;

(9)

help producers adapt to a changing and unpredictable climate and increase resiliency to climate change impacts, including rising temperatures and extreme weather events, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and

(10)

address additional priority resource concerns, as determined by the Secretary.

.

1502.

Definitions

(a)

Organic system plan

Section 1240A of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–1 ) is amended by striking paragraph (3) and redesignating paragraphs (4) through (6) as paragraphs (3) through (5), respectively.

(b)

Practice

Section 1240A of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–1 ) is further amended in paragraph (4)(B) (as redesignated by subsection (a))—

(1)

in clause (i), by striking ; and and inserting a semicolon;

(2)

by redesignating clause (ii) as clause (iii); and

(3)

by inserting after clause (i) the following new clause:

(ii)

comprehensive conservation planning; and

.

1503.

Establishment and administration

(a)

Establishment

Section 1240B(a) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2(a) ) is amended by striking 2002 through 2014 and inserting 2013 through 2018.

(b)

Term

Section 1240B(b)(2)(B) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2(b)(2)(B) ) is amended by striking 10 years and inserting 5 years.

(c)

Priority

Section 1240B(c) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2(c) ) is amended to read as follows:

(c)

Priority

If the Secretary determines that the environmental values of two or more applications for payments are comparable, the Secretary shall assign a higher priority to a program application which will achieve the environment and conservation values using practices and systems the assessed cost of which is lower.

.

(d)

Payments

(1)

Increased payments for certain practices

Section 1240B(d)(3) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2(d)(3) ) is amended to read as follows:

(3)

Increased payments for certain practices

The Secretary shall provide supplemental payments and enhanced technical assistance to producers implementing land management and vegetative practices at a level that, as determined by the Secretary, results in highly cost-effective treatment of priority resource concerns, including—

(A)

residue and tillage management;

(B)

contour farming;

(C)

cover cropping;

(D)

integrated pest management;

(E)

nutrient management;

(F)

stream corridor improvement;

(G)

invasive plant species control;

(H)

contour buffer strips;

(I)

riparian herbaceous and forest buffers;

(J)

filterstrips;

(K)

stream habitat improvement and management;

(L)

grassed waterways;

(M)

wetland restoration and enhancement;

(N)

pollinator habitat; or

(O)

conservation crop rotation.

.

(2)

Increased payments for certain producers

Section 1240B(d)(4)(B) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2(d)(4)(B) ) is amended by striking 30 percent and inserting 50 percent.

(3)

Limitation on payments for certain practices

Section 1240B(d) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2(d) ) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(7)

Limitation on payments for certain practices

A producer who owns or operates a large confined animal feeding operation (as defined by the Secretary) shall not be eligible for payments under this chapter to construct an animal waste management facility or any associated waste transport or transfer device.

.

(e)

Allocation of funding

Section 1240B(f) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2(f) ) is amended to read as follows:

(f)

Allocation of funding

Of the funds made available for payments for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018—

(1)

50 percent shall be targeted at practices relating to livestock production; and

(2)

not less than 10 percent shall be targeted at practices relating to improvement of fish and wildlife habitat.

.

(f)

Water conservation or irrigation efficiency practice

(1)

Availability of payments

Section 1240B(h)(1) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2(h)(1)) is amended to read as follows:

(1)

Availability of payments

The Secretary may provide payments under this subsection to a producer for a water conservation or irrigation practice that promotes ground and surface water conservation on the agricultural operation of the producer by—

(A)

improvements to irrigation systems;

(B)

enhancement of irrigation efficiencies;

(C)

conversion of the agricultural operation to—

(i)

the production of less water-intensive agricultural commodities; or

(ii)

dryland farming;

(D)

improvement of the storage of water through measures such as water banking and groundwater recharge;

(E)

enhancement of fish and wildlife habitat associated with irrigation systems including pivot corners and areas with irregular boundaries; or

(F)

establishment of other measures, as determined by the Secretary, that improve groundwater and surface water conservation in agricultural operations.

.

(2)

Priority

Section 1240B(h)(2) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2(h)(2) ) is amended—

(A)

in subparagraph (A), by striking ; or and inserting ; and; and

(B)

by amending subparagraph (B) to read as follows:

(B)

any associated water savings remain in the original source of such water for the useful life of the practice.

.

(3)

Duty of producers

Section 1240B(h) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2(h) ) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(3)

Duty of producers

The Secretary may not provide payments to a producer for a water conservation or irrigation practice under this chapter unless the producer agrees not to use any associated water savings to bring new land, other than incidental land needed for efficient operations, under irrigated production, unless the producer is participating in a watershed-wide project that will effectively conserve water, as determined by the Secretary.

.

(g)

Payments for conservation practices related to organic production

(1)

Payments authorized

Section 1240B(i)(1) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2(i)(1) ) is amended by striking subsection and inserting chapter.

(2)

Eligibility requirements

Section 1240B(i)(2) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2(i)(2) ) is amended to read as follows:

(2)

Eligibility requirements

As a condition for receiving payments under this chapter, a producer shall agree to develop and implement conservation practices for certified organic production that are consistent with the regulations promulgated under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.) and the purposes of this chapter.

.

(3)

Payment limitations; coordination with organic certification; planning

Section 1240B(i) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2(i) ) is amended—

(A)

by striking paragraph (3) and redesignating paragraphs (4) and (5) as paragraphs (5) and (6), respectively; and

(B)

by inserting after paragraph (2) the following new paragraphs:

(3)

Coordination with organic certification

The Secretary shall establish a transparent means by which producers may initiate organic certification under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 ( 7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq. ) while participating in a contract under this chapter.

(4)

Planning

(A)

In general

The Secretary shall provide planning assistance to producers transitioning to certified organic production consistent with the requirements of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.) and the purposes of this chapter.

(B)

Avoidance of duplication

The Secretary shall, to the maximum extent practicable, eliminate duplication of planning activities for a producer participating in a contract under this chapter and initiating or maintaining organic certification consistent with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.).

.

(h)

Payments for conservation practices related to antibiotic use

Section 1240B of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2 ) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(j)

Payments for conservation practices related to antibiotic use

(1)

Payments authorized

The Secretary shall provide payments under this chapter to livestock producers for three years, to assist in a transition to modified animal management and production systems, for practices leading to the reduction in the need for antibiotics, including modification of systems and spaces to—

(A)

improve sanitation;

(B)

improve ventilation; or

(C)

support the implementation of improved animal management techniques at the operation.

(2)

Duty of producer

The Secretary shall not make payments under this chapter for practices related to antibiotic use unless the producer agrees to provide information to the Secretary documenting the resulting reduction in antibiotic use in the operation of the producer.

.

(i)

Comprehensive conservation planning

Section 1240B of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–2 ), as amended by subsection (g), is further amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(k)

Comprehensive conservation planning

The Secretary shall provide technical and financial assistance to producers under the program to develop a comprehensive conservation plan for the agricultural operation of the producer.

.

1504.

Evaluation of Applications

(a)

Evaluation criteria

Section 1240C(a) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–3(a) ) is amended by striking , national, State, and local conservation priorities and inserting priority resource concerns identified under subsection (d) .

(b)

Prioritization of applications

Section 1240C(b) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–3(b) ) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1), by striking achieving the anticipated environmental benefits of the project and inserting priority resource concerns identified under subsection (d) ; and

(2)

in paragraph (2), by striking designated resource concern or resource concerns and inserting priority resource concerns identified under subsection (d), including, in the case of applications from nutrient-impacted watersheds, the degree to which nutrient loadings would be reduced as a result of the proposed project.

(c)

Grouping of applications

Section 1240C(c) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–3(c) ) is amended by striking for evaluation purposes or otherwise evaluate applications relative to other applications for similar farming operations and inserting proposing to address the same priority resource concerns for evaluation purposes.

(d)

Priority resource concerns

Section 1240C of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–3 ) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(d)

Priority resource concerns

For the purposes of this section, the Secretary shall identify priority resource concerns in a particular watershed or other appropriate region or area within a State.

.

1505.

Environmental quality incentives program plan

(a)

Plan of operations

Section 1240E(a) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–5(a) ) is amended to read as follows:

(a)

Plan of operations

To be eligible to receive payments under the program, a producer shall submit to the Secretary for approval a plan of operations that—

(1)

specifies the priority resource concerns to be addressed;

(2)

specifies the type, number, and sequencing of conservation systems, practices, or activities to be implemented to address the priority resource concerns;

(3)

includes such terms and conditions as the Secretary considers necessary to carry out the program, including a description of the purposes to be met by the implementation of the plan and a statement of how the plan will achieve or take significant steps toward achieving the relevant resource management system quality criteria;

(4)

in the case of a confined livestock feeding operation, provides for development and implementation of a comprehensive nutrient management plan, if applicable;

(5)

in the case of a producer located within a nutrient-impacted watershed, identifies methods by which the producer will limit nutrient loss; and

(6)

in the case of forest land, is consistent with the provisions of a forest management plan that is approved by the Secretary, which may include—

(A)

a forest stewardship plan described in section 5 of the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 ( 16 U.S.C. 2103a );

(B)

another practice plan approved by the State forester; or

(C)

another plan determined appropriate by the Secretary.

.

(b)

Avoidance of duplication

Section 1240E(b)(1) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–5(b)(1) ) is amended by striking plan of operations and inserting resource management system plan.

1506.

Duties of the Secretary

Section 1240F(2) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–6(2) ) is amended by striking information and inserting technical assistance, information,.

1507.

Limitation on payments

Section 1240G of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–7 ) is amended to read as follows:

1240G.

Limitation on payments

(a)

Limitation on total payments

Subject to subsection (b), a person or legal entity may not receive, directly or indirectly, cost-share or incentive payments under this chapter, in the aggregate, for all contracts entered into under this chapter by the person or entity (excluding funding arrangements with federally recognized Native American Indian Tribes or Alaska Native Corporations under section 1240B(h)), regardless of the number of contracts entered into under this chapter by the person or entity, that—

(1)

during any fiscal year exceed $30,000; and

(2)

during any five-year period exceed $150,000.

(b)

Waiver Authority

In the case of contracts under this chapter for projects of special environmental significance, as determined by the Secretary, the Secretary may waive the limitation otherwise applicable under subsection (a)(1).

(c)

Prevention of duplication

The Secretary shall not approve a contract or provide payments to any individual for a practice that has already been paid for as part of a previously approved and completed contract for any particular parcel of land.

.

G

Conservation innovation grant program

1601.

Conservation innovation grant program

Chapter 5 of subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839bb et seq. ) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

1240S.

Conservation innovation grant program

(a)

Competitive grants for innovative conservation approaches

The Secretary shall, for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018, carry out a conservation innovation grant program to encourage innovation in conservation on private farmland, rangeland, wetlands, grasslands, and forest lands.

(b)

Use

The Secretary shall provide grants under this section to governmental and non-governmental organizations and persons, on a competitive basis, to carry out projects that—

(1)

develop and test innovative and cost-effective technologies and practices and methods of conservation delivery to address priority resource concerns;

(2)

involve producers who are eligible for payments or technical assistance under this title;

(3)

leverage Federal funds made available to carry out this section with matching funds provided by State and local governments and private organizations to promote environmental enhancement and protection in conjunction with agricultural production;

(4)

ensure efficient and effective transfer of innovative technologies and approaches demonstrated through projects that receive funding under this subsection, such as market systems for pollution reduction and practices for the storage of carbon in soil;

(5)

provide environmental and resource conservation benefits through increased participation by producers of specialty crops;

(6)

provide payments to producers to implement cost-effective and innovative technologies to address priority resource concerns related to air quality from agricultural operations; or

(7)

provide environmental and resource conservation benefits through increased participation by beginning farmers and ranchers and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

(c)

Evaluation criteria

The Secretary shall develop criteria for evaluating applications for competitive grants under this section that will ensure that priority resource concerns are effectively addressed.

.

H

Funding and administration

1701.

Commodity Credit Corporation

(a)

In general

Section 1241(a) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3841(a)) is amended to read as follows:

(a)

In general

For each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018, the Secretary shall use the funds, facilities, and authorities of the Commodity Credit Corporation to carry out the following programs under this title (including the provision of technical assistance):

(1)

The conservation reserve program under subchapter B of chapter 1 of subtitle D, including, to the maximum extent practicable, $50,000,000 for the period of fiscal years 2014 through 2018 to carry out section 1235(f) to facilitate the transfer of land subject to contracts from retired or retiring owners and operators to beginning farmers or ranchers and socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers.

(2)

The conservation security program under subchapter A of chapter 2 of subtitle D, using such sums as are necessary to administer contracts entered into before September 30, 2008.

(3)

The conservation stewardship program under subchapter B of chapter 2 of subtitle D.

(4)

The environmental quality incentives program under chapter 4 of subtitle D, using, to the maximum extent practicable, $1,542,500,000 for each fiscal year.

(5)

The conservation innovation grant program under section 1240S, using, to the maximum extent practicable, $100,000,000 for each fiscal year.

(6)

The agricultural conservation easement program under subtitle H, using, to the maximum extent practicable, $704,000,000 for each fiscal year, of which not less than 70 percent shall be used to carry out section 1265C.

(7)

The conservation loan and loan guarantee program under section 1246, using, to the maximum extent practicable, for each fiscal year—

(A)

$200,000,000 for direct loans; and

(B)

$150,000,000 for loan guarantees.

.

(b)

Guaranteed availability of funds

Section 1241 of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3841 ) is amended—

(1)

by redesignating subsections (b) through (h) as subsections (c) through (i), respectively; and

(2)

by inserting after subsection (a) the following:

(b)

Availability of funds

(1)

In general

Except as provided in paragraph (2), amounts made available by subsection (a) shall be used by the Secretary to carry out the programs specified in such subsection for fiscal years 2014 through 2018 and shall remain available until expended. Amounts made available for the programs specified in such subsection during a fiscal year through modifications, cancellations, terminations, and other related administrative actions and not obligated in that fiscal year shall remain available for obligation during subsequent fiscal years, but shall reduce the amount of additional funds made available in the subsequent fiscal year by an amount equal to the amount remaining unobligated.

(2)

Conservation innovation grant program

Amounts made available by subsection (a)(5) for a fiscal year and not obligated in that fiscal year shall be made available for the environmental quality incentives program under chapter 4 of subtitle D, and shall remain available until expended.

.

(c)

Technical assistance

Section 1241(c) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (as redesignated by subsection (b)) is amended to read as follows:

(c)

Technical Assistance

(1)

In general

Commodity Credit Corporation funds made available for a fiscal year for each of the programs specified in subsection (a)

(A)

shall be available for the provision of technical assistance for the programs for which funds are made available; and

(B)

shall not be available for the provision of technical assistance for conservation programs specified in subsection (a) other than the program for which the funds were made available.

(2)

Amount

The amount of funds made available under paragraph (1) shall in no case equal less than 10 percent nor more than 30 percent of the amounts made available by subsection (a).

.

(d)

Assistance to certain farmers or ranchers for conservation access

Section 1241(h) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (as redesignated by subsection (b)) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1)

(A)

in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by striking 2012 and inserting 2018; and

(B)

in subparagraph (A), by striking 5 and inserting 10;

(2)

in paragraph (2), by inserting (but not earlier than 120 days after the date that funding for the fiscal year is allocated to the States) after the Secretary ;

(3)

in paragraph (3), by inserting (but not earlier than 120 days after the date that funding for the fiscal year is allocated to the States) after the Secretary ; and

(4)

by adding at the end the following new paragraphs:

(4)

Participation by beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers

Nothing in this subsection prohibits beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers from participating in programs and receiving funding available under this title that is not reserved under paragraph (1).

(5)

Technical assistance

Of the funds reserved under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall allocate to the Natural Resources Conservation Service funding for technical assistance at a rate that is not more than 10 percent higher than the rate that would otherwise apply under the environmental quality incentives program and the conservation stewardship program to allow the Service to provide additional technical assistance to beginning farmers or ranchers and socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers to establish comprehensive conservation plans.

.

1702.

Conservation loan and loan guarantee program

Subtitle E of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3841 et seq. ) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

1246.

Conservation loan and loan guarantee program

(a)

In general

The Secretary may make or guarantee qualified conservation loans to eligible borrowers under this section.

(b)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

Qualified conservation loan

The term qualified conservation loan means a loan, the proceeds of which are used to cover the costs to the borrower of carrying out a qualified conservation project.

(2)

Qualified conservation project

The term qualified conservation project means conservation measures that address provisions of a comprehensive conservation plan of the eligible borrower.

(3)

Conservation loan plan

The term conservation loan plan means a plan, approved by the Secretary, that, for a farming or ranching operation, identifies—

(A)

the conservation activities that will be addressed with loan funds provided under this section, including—

(i)

the installation of conservation structures to address soil, water, and related resources;

(ii)

the establishment of forest cover for sustained yield timber management, erosion control, or shelterbelt purposes;

(iii)

the installation of water conservation measures;

(iv)

the installation of waste management systems;

(v)

the establishment or improvement of permanent pasture; or

(vi)

other purposes consistent with the plan, including the adoption of any other emerging or existing conservation practices, techniques, or technologies approved by the Secretary; and

(B)

how and to what extent the conservation project will support the implementation of a comprehensive conservation plan and improve the conditions of identified priority resource concerns.

(c)

Eligible borrowers

(1)

In general

The Secretary may make or guarantee qualified conservation loans under this section to—

(A)

farmers or ranchers engaged primarily and directly in agricultural production in the United States; or

(B)

farm cooperatives, private domestic corporations, partnerships, joint operations, trusts, or limited liability companies that are—

(i)

controlled by farmers or ranchers; and

(ii)

engaged primarily and directly in agricultural production in the United States.

(2)

Conservation loan plan

In order to be eligible to receive a loan or loan guarantee under this section, an entity described in paragraph (1) shall have a conservation loan plan.

(d)

Priority

In making or guaranteeing qualified conservation loans under this section, the Secretary shall give priority to—

(1)

qualified beginning farmers or ranchers and socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers;

(2)

owners or tenants who use the loans to convert to sustainable or organic agricultural production systems;

(3)

producers who use the loans to build conservation structures or establish conservation practices to implement a comprehensive conservation plan;

(4)

projects that will do the most to address priority resource concerns, as specified in a conservation loan plan; and

(5)

projects that are designed to help producers comply with, or avoid the need for, local, State, or Federal regulation.

(e)

Limitations applicable to loan guarantees

The portion of a qualified conservation loan that the Secretary may guarantee under this section shall be not more than 90 percent of the principal amount of the loan.

(f)

Administrative provisions

(1)

Geographic distribution

The Secretary shall ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, that qualified conservation loans made or guaranteed under this section are distributed across diverse geographic regions, while still prioritizing qualified conservation projects with the greatest conservation or environmental benefit.

(2)

Agency cooperation

The Secretary shall ensure proper cooperation between the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which shall review and approve comprehensive loan plans and provide technical assistance for qualified conservation projects, and the Farm Service Agency, which will approve and issue loans and loan guarantees under this section.

(3)

Interest rates

The Secretary shall ensure that a loan made under this section is made at or below market rate.

.

I

Agricultural conservation easement program

1801.

Agricultural conservation easement program

(a)

Establishment

Title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 is amended by adding at the end the following:

H

Agricultural conservation easement program

1265.

Establishment and purposes

(a)

Establishment

The Secretary shall establish an agricultural conservation easement program for the conservation of eligible land and natural resources through easements or other interests in land.

(b)

Purposes

The purposes of the program are to—

(1)

combine the purposes and coordinate the functions of the wetlands reserve program established under section 1237, the grassland reserve program established under section 1238N, and the farmland protection program established under section 1238I, as such sections were in effect on September 30, 2013;

(2)

restore, protect, and enhance wetland on eligible land;

(3)

protect and enhance the agricultural use, viability, and related conservation values of eligible land by limiting nonagricultural uses of that land; and

(4)

protect grazing uses and related conservation values by restoring and conserving eligible land.

1265A.

Definitions

In this subtitle:

(1)

Agricultural land easement

The term agricultural land easement means an easement or other interest in eligible land that—

(A)

is conveyed for the purposes of protecting natural resources and the agricultural nature of the land, and of promoting agricultural viability for future generations; and

(B)

permits the landowner the right to continue agricultural production and related uses subject to an agricultural land easement plan.

(2)

Eligible entity

The term eligible entity means—

(A)

an agency of State or local government or an Indian tribe (including a farmland protection board or land resource council established under State law); or

(B)

an organization that is—

(i)

organized for, and at all times since the formation of the organization has been operated principally for, 1 or more of the conservation purposes specified in clause (i), (ii), (iii), or (iv) of section 170(h)(4)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;

(ii)

an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of that Code that is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of that Code; or

(iii)

described in—

(I)

paragraph (1) or (2) of section 509(a) of that Code; or

(II)

section 509(a)(3) of that Code and is controlled by an organization described in section 509(a)(2) of that Code.

(3)

Eligible land

The term eligible land means private or tribal land that is—

(A)

in the case of an agricultural land easement, agricultural land, including land on a farm or ranch—

(i)

that is subject to a pending offer for purchase from an eligible entity;

(ii)

that—

(I)

has prime, unique, or other productive soil;

(II)

contains historical or archaeological resources; or

(III)

the protection of which will further a State or local policy consistent with the purposes of the program; and

(iii)

that is—

(I)

cropland;

(II)

rangeland;

(III)

grassland or land that contains forbs, or shrubland for which grazing is the predominant use;

(IV)

pastureland; or

(V)

nonindustrial private forest land that contributes to the economic viability of an offered parcel or serves as a buffer to protect such land from development;

(B)

in the case of a wetland easement, a wetland or related area, including—

(i)

farmed or converted wetland, together with the adjacent land that is functionally dependent on that land, if the Secretary determines it—

(I)

is likely to be successfully restored in a cost effective manner; and

(II)

will maximize the wildlife benefits and wetland functions and values as determined by the Secretary in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior at the local level;

(ii)

cropland or grassland that was used for agricultural production prior to flooding from the natural overflow of a closed basin lake or pothole, as determined by the Secretary, together (where practicable) with the adjacent land that is functionally dependent on the cropland or grassland;

(iii)

farmed wetland and adjoining land that—

(I)

is enrolled in the conservation reserve program;

(II)

has the highest wetland functions and values; and

(III)

is likely to return to production after the land leaves the conservation reserve program;

(iv)

riparian areas that link wetland that is protected by easements or some other device that achieves the same purpose as an easement; or

(v)

other wetland of an owner that would not otherwise be eligible, if the Secretary determines that the inclusion of such wetland in such easement would significantly add to the functional value of the easement; or

(C)

in the case of both an agricultural land easement or wetland easement, other land that is incidental to eligible land if the Secretary determines that it is necessary for the efficient administration of the easements under this program.

(4)

Program

The term program means the agricultural conservation easement program established by this subtitle.

(5)

Wetland easement

The term wetland easement means a reserved interest in eligible land that—

(A)

is defined and delineated in a deed; and

(B)

stipulates—

(i)

the rights, title, and interests in land conveyed to the Secretary; and

(ii)

the rights, title, and interests in land that are reserved to the landowner.

1265B.

Agricultural land easements

(a)

Availability of assistance

The Secretary shall facilitate and provide funding for—

(1)

the purchase by eligible entities of agricultural land easements and other interests in eligible land; and

(2)

technical assistance to provide for the conservation of natural resources pursuant to an agricultural land easement plan.

(b)

Cost-Share assistance

(1)

In general

The Secretary shall provide cost-share assistance to eligible entities for purchasing agricultural land easements to protect the agricultural use, including grazing, and related conservation values of eligible land.

(2)

Scope of assistance available

(A)

Federal share

Subject to subparagraph (C), an agreement described in paragraph (4) shall provide for a Federal share determined by the Secretary of an amount not to exceed 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement or other interest in land, as determined by the Secretary using—

(i)

the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice;

(ii)

an area-wide market analysis or survey; or

(iii)

another industry-approved method.

(B)

Non-federal share

(i)

In general

Subject to subparagraph (C), under the agreement, the eligible entity shall provide a share that is at least equivalent to that provided by the Secretary.

(ii)

Source of contribution

An eligible entity may include as part of its share a charitable donation or qualified conservation contribution (as defined by section 170(h) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) from the private landowner if the eligible entity contributes its own cash resources in an amount that is at least 50 percent of the amount contributed by the Secretary.

(C)

Waiver authority

In the case of grassland of special environmental significance, as determined by the Secretary, the Secretary may provide up to 75 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement.

(3)

Evaluation and ranking of applications

(A)

Criteria

The Secretary shall establish evaluation and ranking criteria to maximize the benefit of Federal investment under the program.

(B)

Considerations

In establishing the criteria, the Secretary shall emphasize support for—

(i)

protecting agricultural uses and enhancing related conservation values of the land; and

(ii)

maximizing the protection of areas devoted to agricultural use and the conservation values that can be derived from the land.

(C)

Priority

If the Secretary determines that the environmental values of two or more applications for cost-share assistance are comparable, the Secretary shall assign a higher priority to a program application which will achieve the environment and conservation values using practices and systems the assessed cost of which is lower.

(4)

Agreements with eligible entities

(A)

In general

The Secretary shall enter into agreements with eligible entities to stipulate the terms and conditions under which the eligible entity is permitted to use cost-share assistance provided under this section.

(B)

Length of agreements

An agreement shall be for a term that is—

(i)

in the case of an eligible entity certified under the process described in paragraph (5), a minimum of 5 years; and

(ii)

for all other eligible entities, at least 3, but not more than 5 years.

(C)

Minimum terms and conditions

An eligible entity shall be authorized to use its own terms and conditions for agricultural land easements so long as the Secretary determines such terms and conditions—

(i)

are consistent with the purposes of the program;

(ii)

are permanent or for the maximum duration allowed under applicable State law;

(iii)

permit effective enforcement of the conservation purposes of such easements, including appropriate restrictions depending on the purposes for which the easement is acquired;

(iv)

include a right of enforcement for the Secretary that may be used if the terms of the easement are not enforced by the holder of the easement;

(v)

subject the land in which such an interest is purchased to an agricultural land easement plan that—

(I)

describes the activities which promote the long-term viability of the land to meet the purposes for which the easement was acquired;

(II)

requires the management of grassland according to a grassland management plan; and

(III)

includes a comprehensive conservation plan, and requires, at the option of the Secretary, the conversion of highly erodible cropland to less intensive uses; and

(vi)

include a limit on the impervious surfaces to be allowed that is consistent with the purposes of the program under section 1265(b).

(D)

Substitution of qualified projects

An agreement shall allow, upon mutual agreement of the parties, substitution of qualified projects that are identified at the time of the proposed substitution.

(E)

Effect of violation

If a violation occurs of a term or condition of an agreement under this subsection—

(i)

the Secretary may terminate the agreement; and

(ii)

the Secretary may require the eligible entity to refund all or part of any payments received by the entity under the program, with interest on the payments as determined appropriate by the Secretary.

(5)

Certification of eligible entities

(A)

Certification process

The Secretary shall establish a process under which the Secretary may—

(i)

directly certify eligible entities that meet established criteria;

(ii)

enter into long-term agreements with certified eligible entities; and

(iii)

accept proposals for cost-share assistance for the purchase of agricultural land easements throughout the duration of such agreements.

(B)

Certification criteria

In order to be certified, an eligible entity shall demonstrate to the Secretary that the entity will maintain, at a minimum, for the duration of the agreement—

(i)

a plan for administering easements that is consistent with the purpose of this subtitle;

(ii)

the capacity and resources to monitor and enforce agricultural land easements; and

(iii)

policies and procedures to ensure—

(I)

the long-term integrity of agricultural land easements on eligible land;

(II)

timely completion of acquisitions of easements; and

(III)

timely and complete evaluation and reporting to the Secretary on the use of funds provided under the program.

(C)

Review and revision

(i)

Review

The Secretary shall conduct a review of eligible entities certified under subparagraph (A) every 3 years to ensure that such entities are meeting the criteria established under subparagraph (B).

(ii)

Revocation

If the Secretary finds that the certified eligible entity no longer meets the criteria established under subparagraph (B), the Secretary may—

(I)

allow the certified eligible entity a specified period of time, at a minimum 180 days, in which to take such actions as may be necessary to meet the criteria; and

(II)

revoke the certification of the eligible entity, if, after the specified period of time, the certified entity does not meet such criteria.

(c)

Technical assistance

The Secretary may provide technical assistance, if requested, to assist in—

(1)

compliance with the terms and conditions of easements; and

(2)

implementation of an agricultural land easement plan.

1265C.

Wetland easements

(a)

Availability of assistance

The Secretary shall provide assistance to owners of eligible land to restore, protect, and enhance wetland through—

(1)

easements and related wetland easement plans; and

(2)

technical assistance.

(b)

Easements

(1)

Method of enrollment

The Secretary shall enroll eligible land through the use of—

(A)

30-year easements;

(B)

permanent easements;

(C)

easements for the maximum duration allowed under applicable State laws; or

(D)

as an option for Indian tribes only, 30-year contracts (which shall be considered to be 30-year contracts for the purposes of this subtitle).

(2)

Limitations

(A)

Ineligible land

The Secretary may not acquire wetland easements on—

(i)

land established to trees under the conservation reserve program, except in cases where the Secretary determines it would further the purposes of the program; and

(ii)

farmed wetland or converted wetland where the conversion was not commenced prior to December 23, 1985.

(B)

Changes in ownership

No wetland easement shall be created on land that has changed ownership during the preceding 24-month period unless—

(i)

the new ownership was acquired by will or succession as a result of the death of the previous owner;

(ii)
(I)

the ownership change occurred because of foreclosure on the land; and

(II)

immediately before the foreclosure, the owner of the land exercises a right of redemption from the mortgage holder in accordance with State law; or

(iii)

the Secretary determines that the land was acquired under circumstances that give adequate assurances that such land was not acquired for the purposes of placing it in the program.

(3)

Evaluation and ranking of offers

(A)

Criteria

The Secretary shall establish evaluation and ranking criteria to maximize the benefit of Federal investment under the program.

(B)

Considerations

When evaluating offers from landowners, the Secretary may consider—

(i)

the conservation benefits of obtaining a wetland easement, including the potential environmental benefits if the land was removed from agricultural production;

(ii)

the cost-effectiveness of each wetland easement, so as to maximize the environmental benefits per dollar expended;

(iii)

whether the landowner or another person is offering to contribute financially to the cost of the wetland easement to leverage Federal funds; and

(iv)

such other factors as the Secretary determines are necessary to carry out the purposes of the program.

(C)

Priority

The Secretary shall place priority on acquiring wetland easements based on the value of the wetland easement for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.

(4)

Agreement

To be eligible to place eligible land into the program through a wetland easement, the owner of such land shall enter into an agreement with the Secretary to—

(A)

grant an easement on such land to the Secretary;

(B)

authorize the implementation of a wetland easement plan;

(C)

create and record an appropriate deed restriction in accordance with applicable State law to reflect the easement agreed to;

(D)

provide a written statement of consent to such easement signed by those holding a security interest in the land;

(E)

comply with the terms and conditions of the easement and any related agreements; and

(F)

permanently retire any existing cropland base and allotment history for the land on which the easement has been obtained.

(5)

Terms and conditions of easement

(A)

In general

A wetland easement shall include terms and conditions that—

(i)

permit—

(I)

repairs, improvements, and inspections on the land that are necessary to maintain existing public drainage systems; and

(II)

owners to control public access on the easement areas while identifying access routes to be used for restoration activities and management and easement monitoring;

(ii)

prohibit—

(I)

the alteration of wildlife habitat and other natural features of such land, unless specifically authorized by the Secretary;

(II)

the spraying of such land with chemicals or the mowing of such land, except where such spraying or mowing is authorized by the Secretary or is necessary—

(aa)

to comply with Federal or State noxious weed control laws;

(bb)

to comply with a Federal or State emergency pest treatment program; or

(cc)

to meet habitat needs of specific wildlife species;

(III)

any activities to be carried out on the owner’s or successor’s land that is immediately adjacent to, and functionally related to, the land that is subject to the easement if such activities will alter, degrade, or otherwise diminish the functional value of the eligible land; and

(IV)

the adoption of any other practice that would tend to defeat the purposes of the program, as determined by the Secretary;

(iii)

provide for the efficient and effective establishment of wetland functions and values; and

(iv)

include such additional provisions as the Secretary determines are desirable to carry out the program or facilitate the practical administration thereof.

(B)

Violation

On the violation of the terms or conditions of the wetland easement, the wetland easement shall remain in force and the Secretary may require the owner to refund all or part of any payments received by the owner under the program, together with interest thereon as determined appropriate by the Secretary.

(C)

Compatible uses

Land subject to a wetland easement may be used for compatible economic uses, including such activities as hunting and fishing, managed timber harvest, or periodic haying or grazing, if such use is specifically permitted by the wetland easement plan and is consistent with the long-term protection and enhancement of the wetland resources for which the easement was established.

(D)

Reservation of grazing rights

The Secretary may include in the terms and conditions of a wetland easement a provision under which the owner reserves grazing rights if—

(i)

the Secretary determines that the reservation and use of the grazing rights—

(I)

is compatible with the land subject to the easement;

(II)

is consistent with the historical natural uses of the land and long-term protection and enhancement goals for which the easement was established; and

(III)

complies with the wetland easement plan; and

(ii)

the agreement provides for a commensurate reduction in the easement payment to account for the grazing value, as determined by the Secretary.

(6)

Compensation

(A)

Determination

(i)

In general

The Secretary shall pay as compensation for a permanent wetland easement acquired under the program an amount necessary to encourage enrollment in the program based on the lowest of—

(I)

the fair market value of the land, as determined by the Secretary, using the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice or an area-wide market analysis or survey;

(II)

the amount corresponding to a geographical cap, as determined by the Secretary in regulations; or

(III)

the offer made by the landowner.

(ii)

Other

Compensation for a 30-year wetland easement shall be not less than 50 percent, but not more than 75 percent, of the compensation that would be paid for a permanent wetland easement.

(B)

Form of payment

Compensation shall be provided by the Secretary in the form of a cash payment, in an amount determined under subparagraph (A).

(C)

Payment schedule

(i)

Easements valued at less than $500,000

For wetland easements valued at $500,000 or less, the Secretary may provide easement payments in not more than 10 annual payments.

(ii)

Easements valued at more than $500,000

For wetland easements valued at more than $500,000, the Secretary may provide easement payments in at least 5, but not more than 10 annual payments, except that, if the Secretary determines it would further the purposes of the program, the Secretary may make a lump sum payment for such an easement.

(c)

Easement restoration

(1)

In general

The Secretary shall provide financial assistance to carry out the establishment of conservation measures and practices and protect wetland functions and values, including necessary maintenance activities, as set forth in a wetland easement plan.

(2)

Payments

The Secretary shall—

(A)

in the case of a permanent wetland easement, pay an amount that is not less than 75 percent, but not more than 100 percent, of the eligible costs as determined by the Secretary; and

(B)

in the case of a 30-year wetland easement, pay an amount that is not less than 50 percent, but not more than 75 percent, of the eligible costs, as determined by the Secretary.

(d)

Technical assistance

(1)

In general

The Secretary shall assist owners in complying with the terms and conditions of easements.

(2)

Contracts or agreements

The Secretary may enter into 1 or more contracts with private entities or agreements with a State, non-governmental organization, or Indian tribe to carry out necessary restoration, enhancement, or maintenance of a wetland easement if the Secretary determines that the contract or agreement will advance the purposes of the program.

(3)

Funding

Not less than 10 percent of the funds made available to carry out this section shall be available to provide technical assistance under this subsection.

(e)

Wetland enhancement option

The Secretary may enter into 1 or more agreements with a State (including a political subdivision or agency of a State), nongovernmental organization, or Indian tribe to carry out a special wetland enhancement option that the Secretary determines would advance the purposes of the program.

(f)

Administration

(1)

Wetland easement plan

The Secretary shall develop a wetland easement plan for eligible land subject to a wetland easement, which will include the practices and activities necessary to restore, protect, enhance, and maintain the enrolled land.

(2)

Delegation of easement administration

(A)

In general

The Secretary may delegate any of the easement management, monitoring, and enforcement responsibilities of the Secretary to other Federal or State agencies that have the appropriate authority, expertise and resources necessary to carry out such delegated responsibilities or to other conservation organizations if the Secretary determines the organization has similar expertise and resources.

(B)

Limitation

The Secretary shall not delegate any of the monitoring or enforcement responsibilities under the program to conservation organizations.

(3)

Payments

(A)

Timing of payments

The Secretary shall provide payment for obligations incurred by the Secretary under this section—

(i)

with respect to any easement restoration obligation as soon as possible after the obligation is incurred; and

(ii)

with respect to any annual easement payment obligation incurred by the Secretary as soon as possible after October 1 of each calendar year.

(B)

Payments to others

If an owner who is entitled to a payment dies, becomes incompetent, is otherwise unable to receive such payment, or is succeeded by another person or entity who renders or completes the required performance, the Secretary shall make such payment, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary and without regard to any other provision of law, in such manner as the Secretary determines is fair and reasonable in light of all of the circumstances.

(g)

Wetlands reserve enhancement program

(1)

Program authorized

The Secretary may enter into 1 or more agreements with a State (including a political subdivision or agency of a State), nongovernmental organization, or Indian tribe to carry out a special wetlands reserve enhancement program that the Secretary determines would advance the purposes of this section.

(2)

Reserved rights pilot program

(A)

Reservation of grazing and haying rights

As part of the wetlands reserve enhancement program, the Secretary shall carry out a pilot program for land in which a landowner may reserve grazing and haying rights in the warranty easement deed restriction if the Secretary determines that the reservation and use of the grazing rights—

(i)

is compatible with the land subject to the easement;

(ii)

is consistent with the long-term wetland protection and enhancement goals for which the easement was established; and

(iii)

complies with a comprehensive conservation plan.

(B)

Duration

The pilot program established under this paragraph shall terminate on September 30, 2016.

1265D.

Administration

(a)

Ineligible land

The Secretary may not acquire an easement under the program on—

(1)

land owned by an agency of the United States, other than land held in trust for Indian tribes;

(2)

land owned in fee title by a State, including an agency or a subdivision of a State, or a unit of local government;

(3)

land subject to an easement or deed restriction which, as determined by the Secretary, provides similar protection as would be provided by enrollment in the program; and

(4)

land where the purposes of the program would be undermined due to on-site or off-site conditions, such as risk of hazardous substances, proposed or existing rights of way, infrastructure development, or adjacent land uses.

(b)

Priority

In evaluating applications under the program, the Secretary may give priority to land that is currently enrolled in the conservation reserve program in a contract that is set to expire within 1 year and—

(1)

in the case of an agricultural land easement, is grassland that would benefit from protection under a long-term easement; and

(2)

in the case of a wetland easement, is a wetland or related area with the highest functions and values and is likely to return to production after the land leaves the conservation reserve program.

(c)

Subordination, exchange, modification, and termination

(1)

In general

The Secretary may subordinate, exchange, terminate, or modify any interest in land, or portion of such interest, administered by the Secretary, either directly or on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation under the program when the Secretary determines that—

(A)

it is in the Federal Government’s interest to subordinate, exchange, modify or terminate the interest in land;

(B)

the subordination, exchange, modification, or termination action—

(i)

will address a compelling public need for which there is no practicable alternative, or

(ii)

such action will further the practical administration of the program; and

(C)

the subordination, exchange, modification, or termination action will result in comparable conservation value and equivalent or greater economic value to the United States.

(2)

Consultation

The Secretary shall work with the owner, and eligible entity if applicable, to address any subordination, exchange, termination, or modification of the interest, or portion of such interest in land.

(3)

Notice

At least 90 days before taking any termination action described in paragraph (1), the Secretary shall provide written notice of such action to the Committee on Agriculture of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry of the Senate.

(d)

Land enrolled in other programs

(1)

Conservation reserve program

The Secretary may terminate or modify a contract entered into under section 1231(a) if eligible land that is subject to such contract is transferred into the program.

(2)

Other

Land enrolled in the wetlands reserve program, grassland reserve program, or farmland protection program, as such programs were in effect on September 30, 2013, shall be considered enrolled in this program.

(e)

Allocation of funds for agricultural land easements

Of the funds made available under section 1241 to carry out the program for a fiscal year, the Secretary shall, to the extent practicable, use no less than 40 percent for agricultural land easements.

.

(b)

Compliance with certain requirements

Before an eligible entity or owner of eligible land may receive assistance under subtitle H of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985, the eligible entity or person shall agree, during the crop year for which the assistance is provided and in exchange for the assistance—

(1)

to comply with applicable conservation requirements under subtitle B of title XII of that Act ( 16 U.S.C. 3811 et seq. ); and

(2)

to comply with applicable wetland protection requirements under subtitle C of title XII of that Act ( 16 U.S.C. 3821 et seq. ).

(c)

Cross reference

Section 1244 of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3844) is amended—

(1)

in subsection (c)

(A)

in paragraph (1)

(i)

by inserting and at the end of subparagraph (A);

(ii)

by striking and at the end of subparagraph (B); and

(iii)

by striking subparagraph (C);

(B)

by redesignating paragraph (2) as paragraph (3); and

(C)

by inserting after paragraph (1) the following:

(2)

the agricultural conservation easement program established under subtitle H; and

; and

(2)

in subsection (f)

(A)

in paragraph (1)

(i)

in subparagraph (A), by striking programs administered under subchapters B and C of chapter 1 of subtitle D and inserting conservation reserve program established under subchapter B of chapter 1 of subtitle D and the agricultural conservation easement program under subtitle H using wetland easements under section 1265C ; and

(ii)

in subparagraph (B), by striking subchapter C of chapter 1 of subtitle D and inserting the agricultural conservation easement program under subtitle H using wetland easements under section 1265C ; and

(B)

in paragraph (4), by striking subchapter C and inserting subchapter B.

J

Regional conservation partnership program

1901.

Regional conservation partnership program

Title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 is amended by inserting after subtitle H (as added by section 1801) the following:

I

Regional conservation partnership program

1271.

Establishment and purposes

(a)

Establishment

The Secretary shall establish a regional conservation partnership program to implement eligible activities through—

(1)

partnership agreements with eligible partners; and

(2)

contracts with producers enrolled in a covered program.

(b)

Purposes

The purposes of the program are—

(1)

to combine the purposes and coordinate the functions of the agricultural water enhancement program established under section 1240I, the Chesapeake Bay watershed program established under section 1240Q, the cooperative conservation partnership initiative established under section 1243, and the Great Lakes basin program for soil erosion and sediment control established under section 1240P, as such sections were in effect on September 30, 2013;

(2)

to enhance priority resource concerns on agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands, including ground and surface water associated with such lands;

(3)

to encourage cooperation among partners and producers to—

(A)

address priority resource concerns involving agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands on a local, State, multi-state, or regional level;

(B)

encourage producers to cooperate in achieving the goals of applicable Federal, State, and local natural resource and environmental laws, thereby avoiding the need for additional regulatory measures to be applied to owners and operators of agricultural and nonindustrial private forest land;

(C)

encourage producers to cooperate in the installation and maintenance of conservation activities, practices, systems, and management measures that affect multiple agricultural or nonindustrial private forest operations for the purpose of achieving landscape-level improvement of priority resource concerns;

(D)

promote the development and demonstration of innovative conservation activities, practices, systems, and management measures to deliver technical, financial, and educational assistance; and

(E)

promote ground and surface water conservation and improve water quality through efforts on agricultural land, including—

(i)

water quality or water conservation planning, including resource condition assessment and modeling;

(ii)

performance measurement and management to reduce nutrient loss;

(iii)

water quality or water conservation restoration or enhancement projects;

(iv)

in the case of nutrient-impacted watersheds, prioritization of nutrient loss reduction as a conservation goal;

(v)

activities designed to mitigate the effects of damaging drought or precipitation; or

(vi)

related activities that the Secretary determines will help achieve water quality or water conservation benefits on agricultural land;

(4)

to encourage producers to cooperate in the installation and maintenance of conservation activities, practices, systems, and management measures that provide climate change benefits, including increasing resilience to rising temperatures, extreme weather events, and related climate changes while reducing greenhouse gas emissions;

(5)

to improve the capacity of regional, state or local partners to deliver assistance to producers that is effective in addressing priority resource concerns; and

(6)

to implement the partnership in such a way that encourages producers to achieve assessed conservation outcomes and allows them to receive payments and technical assistance linked to levels of those outcomes.

1271A.

Definitions

In this subtitle:

(1)

Covered programs

The term covered programs means all conservation programs under subtitle D.

(2)

Eligible activity

The term eligible activity means any of the following conservation activities when delivered through a covered program:

(A)

Water quality restoration or enhancement projects, including nutrient management and sediment reduction.

(B)

Water quantity conservation, restoration, or enhancement projects relating to surface water and groundwater resources, including—

(i)

the conversion of irrigated cropland to the production of less water-intensive agricultural commodities or dryland farming; and

(ii)

irrigation system improvement and irrigation efficiency enhancement.

(C)

Drought mitigation.

(D)

Flood prevention.

(E)

Water retention.

(F)

Habitat conservation, restoration, and enhancement.

(G)

Erosion control.

(H)

Other related activities that the Secretary determines will help achieve conservation benefits.

(3)

Eligible partner

The term eligible partner means any of the following:

(A)

An agricultural or silvicultural producer association or other group of producers.

(B)

A State or unit of local government.

(C)

An Indian tribe.

(D)

A farmer cooperative.

(E)

An institution of higher education.

(F)

A nongovernmental organization with an established history of working cooperatively with producers to effectively address priority resource concerns related to agricultural production and nonindustrial private forest land or with demonstrated technical capabilities that would substantially increase the success of the program.

(4)

Partnership agreement

The term partnership agreement means an agreement between the Secretary and an eligible partner.

(5)

Program

The term program means the regional conservation partnership program established by this subtitle.

1271B.

Regional conservation partnerships

(a)

Partnership agreements authorized

The Secretary may enter into a partnership agreement with an eligible partner to implement a project that will assist producers with installing and maintaining an eligible activity.

(b)

Length

A partnership agreement shall be for a period not to exceed 5 years, except that the Secretary may extend the agreement 1 time for up to 12 months when an extension is necessary to meet the objectives of the program.

(c)

Duties of partners

(1)

In general

Under a partnership agreement, the eligible partner shall—

(A)

define the scope of a project, including—

(i)

the eligible activities to be implemented;

(ii)

the potential agricultural or nonindustrial private forest operations affected;

(iii)

the local, State, multi-State, or other geographic area covered; and

(iv)

the planning, outreach, implementation, and assessment to be conducted;

(B)

conduct outreach and education to producers for potential participation in the project;

(C)

at the request of a producer, act on behalf of a producer participating in the project in applying for assistance under section 1271C;

(D)

leverage financial or technical assistance provided by the Secretary with additional funds to help achieve the project objectives;

(E)

if proposed by the partner and approved by the Secretary, provide technical assistance to producers participating in the project;

(F)

conduct an assessment of the project’s effects; and

(G)

at the conclusion of the project, report to the Secretary on its results and funds leveraged.

(2)

Contribution

A partner shall provide a significant portion of the overall costs of the scope of the project, as determined by the Secretary.

(d)

Applications

(1)

Competitive process

The Secretary shall conduct a competitive process to select applications for partnership agreements and may assess and rank applications with similar conservation purposes as a group.

(2)

Criteria used

In carrying out the process described in paragraph (1), the Secretary shall make public the criteria used in evaluating applications.

(3)

Content

An application to the Secretary shall include a description of—

(A)

the scope of the project, as described in subsection (c)(1)(A);

(B)

the plan for monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on progress made towards achieving the project’s objectives;

(C)

the program resources requested for the project, including the covered programs to be used and estimated funding needed from the Secretary;

(D)

the resources requested under section 1271C(c)(4);

(E)

the partners collaborating to achieve project objectives, including their roles, responsibilities, capabilities, and financial contribution; and

(F)

any other elements the Secretary considers necessary to adequately evaluate and competitively select applications for funding under the program.

(4)

Application priority

The Secretary shall give a higher priority to applications that demonstrate the greatest potential to—

(A)

have a high percentage of producers involved and of the agricultural or nonindustrial private forest land included in the area covered by the agreement;

(B)

assist producers in meeting the goals and objectives of Federal environmental and natural resource laws and regulations;

(C)

significantly leverage non-Federal financial and technical resources and coordinate with other local, State, regional, or national efforts;

(D)

deliver high percentages of applied conservation to address water quality, water conservation, or other State, regional, or national priority resource concerns;

(E)

provide innovation in conservation methods and delivery, including outcome-based performance measures and methods;

(F)

identify producers participating in the project, on whose behalf the partner is applying;

(G)

advance conservation and rural community development goals simultaneously;

(H)

assist producers in States with significant water quantity concerns; or

(I)

meet other factors that are important for achieving the purposes of the program, as determined by the Secretary.

1271C.

Assistance to producers

(a)

In general

The Secretary shall enter into contracts to provide financial and technical assistance to—

(1)

producers participating in an eligible activity with an eligible partner; or

(2)

producers participating in an eligible activity in a critical conservation area designated under section 1271F without an eligible partner.

(b)

Terms and conditions

(1)

Compliance with covered program rules

(A)

In general

Except as provided in subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall ensure that the terms and conditions of a contract under this section are consistent with the applicable rules of the covered programs to be used as part of the project, as described in the application under section 1271B(d)(3)(C).

(B)

Adjustments

Except for statutory program requirements governing appeals, payment limitations, and conservation compliance, the Secretary may adjust the discretionary program rules of a covered program—

(i)

to provide a simplified application and evaluation process;

(ii)

to better reflect unique local circumstances and purposes if the Secretary determines such adjustments are necessary to achieve the purposes of the proposed project;

(iii)

to better link technical and financial assistance to assessed conservation outcomes; and

(iv)

to increase the improvement in priority resource concerns achieved by the proposed project.

(2)

Alternative funding arrangements

(A)

In general

For the purposes of providing assistance for a critical conservation areas designated under section 1271F, the Secretary may enter into alternative funding arrangements with a multistate water resource agency or authority if—

(i)

the Secretary determines that the goals and objectives of the program will be met by the alternative funding arrangements;

(ii)

the agency or authority certifies that the limitations established under this section on agreements with individual producers will not be exceeded; and

(iii)

all participating producers meet applicable payment eligibility provisions.

(B)

Conditions

As a condition on receipt of funding under subparagraph (A), the multistate water resource agency or authority shall agree—

(i)

to submit an annual independent audit to the Secretary that describes the use of funds under this paragraph;

(ii)

to provide any data necessary for the Secretary to issue a report on the use of funds under this paragraph; and

(iii)

not to use any funds for administration or contracting with another entity.

(C)

Limitation

The Secretary may enter into not more than 10 alternative funding arrangements under this paragraph.

(c)

Payments

(1)

In general

In accordance with statutory requirements of the covered programs involved, the Secretary may make payments to a producer in an amount determined by the Secretary to be necessary to achieve the purposes of the program.

(2)

Payments to certain producers

The Secretary may provide payments for a period of 5 years—

(A)

to producers participating in a project that addresses water quantity concerns and in an amount sufficient to encourage conversion from irrigated to dryland farming; and

(B)

to producers participating in a project that addresses water quality concerns and in an amount sufficient to encourage adoption of conservation practices and systems that improve nutrient management.

(3)

Waiver authority

To assist in the implementation of the program, the Secretary may waive the applicability of the limitation in section 1001D(b)(2) of this Act for participating producers if the Secretary determines that the waiver is necessary to fulfill the objectives of the program.

(4)

Payments to partners

The Secretary shall provide, directly or through cooperative and contribution agreements with partners, financial assistance to such partners to complete tasks essential to the success of the project which may include natural resource assessment and planning, outreach to producers, monitoring, technical assistance, and evaluation of project progress and other such essential tasks as determined by the Secretary.

1271D.

Funding

(a)

Availability of funds

The Secretary shall use $100,000,000 of the funds of the Commodity Credit Corporation for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018 to carry out the program established under this subtitle.

(b)

Duration of availability

Funds made available under subsection (a) shall remain available until expended.

(c)

Additional funding and acres

(1)

In general

In addition to the funds made available under subsection (a), the Secretary shall reserve at least 8 percent of the funds and acres made available for a covered program for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018 in order to ensure additional resources are available to provide technical and financial assistance to producers to carry out this program.

(2)

Assistance to partners

The Secretary shall reserve at least 10 percent of the funding provided in subsection (a) to provide payments to partners.

(3)

Unused funds and acres

(A)

Return

Any funds or acres reserved under paragraph (1) of this section for a fiscal year from a covered program that are not obligated under this program by April 1 of that fiscal year shall be returned for use under the covered program or redirected to support unfunded applications within the geographic areas of approved partnership agreements.

(B)

Reallocation

Any funds reserved under paragraph (2) of this section for a fiscal year that are not obligated under this program by April 1 of that fiscal year shall be reallocated to partners demonstrating the highest level of performance in achieving the objectives of the program.

(d)

Allocation of funding

Of the funds and acres made available for the program under subsections (a) and (c), the Secretary shall allocate—

(1)

40 percent of the funds and acres to projects based on a State competitive process administered by the State conservationist, with the advice of the State technical committee; and

(2)

60 percent of the funds and acres to projects based on a national competitive process to be established by the Secretary, of which 60 percent shall be reserved for the critical conservation areas designated under section 1271F.

1271E.

Administration

(a)

Disclosure

The Secretary shall make publicly available information on projects selected through the competitive process described in section 1271B(d)(1).

(b)

Reporting

Not later than December 31, 2013, and every 2 years thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Agriculture of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry of the Senate a report on the status of projects funded under the program, including—

(1)

the number and types of partners and producers participating in the partnership agreements selected;

(2)

the number of producers receiving assistance;

(3)

total funding committed to projects, including Federal and non-Federal resources; and

(4)

a description of how funds are being administered under section 1271B, including—

(A)

any oversight mechanisms that the Secretary has implemented;

(B)

the process through which the Secretary is resolving appeals by program participants; and

(C)

the means by which the Secretary is tracking adherence to any applicable provisions for payment eligibility.

(c)

Evaluation

Partners shall provide to the Secretary

(1)

annual performance reports;

(2)

at the end of each multi-year project, a performance report that describes—

(A)

the progress that has been made towards attainment of conservation objectives and landscape-scale conservation outcomes;

(B)

the methods that have been used to measure progress being made toward attainment of conservation objectives and landscape-scale conservation outcomes;

(C)

the number of producers who participated; and

(D)

the conservation practices adopted and the frequency of adoption.

1271F.

Critical conservation areas

(a)

In general

When administering the funding reserved for critical conservation areas under section 1271D(d)(2), the Secretary shall select applications for partnership agreements and producer contracts within critical conservation areas designated under this section.

(b)

Critical conservation area designations

(1)

In general

The Secretary shall designate up to 6 geographical areas as critical conservation areas based on the degree to which an area—

(A)

includes multiple States with significant agricultural production;

(B)

is covered by an existing regional, State, binational, or multistate agreement or plan that has established objectives, goals, and work plans and is adopted by a Federal, State, or regional authority;

(C)

has water quality concerns, including concerns for reducing erosion, promoting sediment control, and addressing nutrient management activities affecting large bodies of water of regional, national, or international significance;

(D)

has water quantity concerns, including—

(i)

concerns for groundwater, surface water, aquifer, or other water sources; or

(ii)

a need to promote water retention and flood prevention;

(E)

is subject to regulatory requirements that could reduce the economic scope of agricultural operations within the area; or

(F)

is recognized as vital habitat for migrating wildlife.

(2)

Expiration

Critical conservation area designations under this section shall expire after 5 years, subject to redesignation, except that the Secretary may withdraw designation from an area if the Secretary finds the area no longer meets the conditions described in paragraph (1).

(c)

Administration

(1)

In general

Except as provided in paragraph (2), the Secretary shall administer any partnership agreement or producer contract under this section in a manner that is consistent with the terms of the program.

(2)

Relationship to existing activity

The Secretary shall, to the maximum extent practicable, ensure that eligible activities carried out in critical conservation areas designated under this section complement and are consistent with other Federal and State programs and water quality and quantity strategies.

.

II

Crop insurance and disaster assistance

2001.

Ineligibility for Federal crop insurance, noninsured crop disaster assistance, and certain payments because of crop production on native sod

(a)

Federal crop insurance Act amendment

Section 508(o) of the Federal Crop Insurance Act ( 7 U.S.C. 1508(o) ) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1)(B), by inserting , or the producer cannot substantiate that the ground has ever been tilled, after tilled;

(2)

in paragraph (2)(A), by striking for benefits under— and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting

for—

(i)

a portion of crop insurance premium subsidies under this subtitle in accordance with paragraph (3);

(ii)

benefits under section 196 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (7 U.S.C. 7333); and

(iii)

payments described in subsection (b) of section 1001 of the Food Security Act of 1985 (7 U.S.C. 1308).

; and

(3)

by striking paragraph (3) and inserting the following new paragraphs:

(3)

Administration

(A)

In general

During the first 4 crop years of planting on native sod acreage by a producer described in paragraph (2)

(i)

paragraph (2) shall apply to 65 percent of the transitional yield of the producer; and

(ii)

the crop insurance premium subsidy provided for the producer under this subtitle shall be 50 percentage points less than the premium subsidy that would otherwise apply.

(B)

Yield substitution

During the period native sod acreage is covered by this subsection, a producer may not substitute yields for the native sod acreage.

.

(b)

Noninsured crop disaster assistance amendment

Section 196(a)(4) of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 ( 7 U.S.C. 7333(a)(4) ) is amended—

(1)

in subparagraph (A)(ii), by inserting , or the producer cannot substantiate that the ground has ever been tilled, after tilled;

(2)

in subparagraph (B)

(A)

in the subparagraph heading, by striking Ineligibility and inserting Reduction in ; and

(B)

in clause (i), by striking for benefits under— and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting

for—

(I)

benefits under this section;

(II)

a portion of crop insurance premium subsidies under the Federal Crop Insurance Act (7 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.) in accordance with subparagraph (C); and

(III)

payments described in subsection (b) of section 1001 of the Food Security Act of 1985 (7 U.S.C. 1308).

; and

(3)

by striking subparagraph (C) and inserting the following new subparagraphs:

(C)

Administration

(i)

In general

During the first 4 crop years of planting on native sod acreage by a producer described in subparagraph (B)

(I)

subparagraph (B) shall apply to 65 percent of the transitional yield of the producer; and

(II)

the crop insurance premium subsidy provided for the producer under the Federal Crop Insurance Act ( 7 U.S.C. 1501 et seq. ) shall be 50 percentage points less than the premium subsidy that would otherwise apply.

(ii)

Yield substitution

During the period native sod acreage is covered by this paragraph, a producer may not substitute yields for the native sod acreage.

.

III

Repeals and transitional provisions; technical and conforming amendments; effective date

3001.

Repeals and transitional provisions

(a)

Emergency forestry conservation reserve program

(1)

Repeal

Section 1231A of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3831a ) is repealed.

(2)

Transitional provisions

(A)

Effect on existing contracts

The amendment made by this subsection shall not affect the validity or terms of any contract entered into by the Secretary of Agriculture under section 1231A of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3831a ) before October 1, 2013, or any payments required to be made in connection with the contract.

(B)

Funding

The Secretary may use funds made available to carry out the agricultural conservation easement program under subtitle H of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985, as added by section 1801 of this Act, to continue to carry out contracts referred to in subparagraph (A) using the provisions of law and regulation applicable to such contracts as in existence on September 30, 2013.

(b)

Wetlands reserve program

(1)

Repeal

Subchapter C of chapter 1 of subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3837 et seq.) is repealed.

(2)

Transitional provisions

(A)

Effect on existing contracts and easements

The amendment made by this subsection shall not affect the validity or terms of any contract or easement entered into by the Secretary of Agriculture under subchapter C of chapter 1 of subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3837 et seq.) before October 1, 2013, or any payments required to be made in connection with the contract or easement.

(B)

Funding

(i)

Use of prior year funds

Notwithstanding the repeal of subchapter C of chapter 1 of subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3837 et seq.), any funds made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation to carry out the wetlands reserve program under that subchapter for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 shall be made available to carry out contracts or easements referred to in subparagraph (A) that were entered into prior to October 1, 2013 (including the provision of technical assistance), provided that no such contract or easement is modified so as to increase the amount of the payment received.

(ii)

Other

The Secretary may use funds made available to carry out the agricultural conservation easement program under subtitle H of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985, as added by section 1801 of this Act, to continue to carry out contracts and easements referred to in subparagraph (A) using the provisions of law and regulation applicable to such contracts and easements as in existence on September 30, 2013.

(c)

Farmland protection program and farm viability program

(1)

Repeal

Subchapter C of chapter 2 of subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3838h et seq.) is repealed.

(2)

Transitional provisions

(A)

Effect on existing agreements and easements

The amendment made by this subsection shall not affect the validity or terms of any agreement or easement entered into by the Secretary of Agriculture under subchapter C of chapter 2 of subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3838h et seq.) before October 1, 2013, or any payments required to be made in connection with the agreement or easement.

(B)

Funding

(i)

Use of prior year funds

Notwithstanding the repeal of subchapter C of chapter 2 of subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3838h et seq.), any funds made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation to carry out the farmland protection program under that subchapter for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 shall be made available to carry out agreements and easements referred to in subparagraph (A) that were entered into prior to October 1, 2013 (including the provision of technical assistance).

(ii)

Other

On exhaustion of funds made available under clause (i), the Secretary may use funds made available to carry out the agricultural conservation easement program under subtitle H of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985, as added by section 1801 of this Act, to continue to carry out agreements and easements referred to in subparagraph (A) using the provisions of law and regulation applicable to such agreements and easements as in existence on September 30, 2013.

(d)

Grassland reserve program

(1)

Repeal

Subchapter D of chapter 2 of subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3838n et seq. ) is repealed.

(2)

Transitional provisions

(A)

Effect on existing contracts, agreements, and easements

The amendment made by this subsection shall not affect the validity or terms of any contract, agreement, or easement entered into by the Secretary of Agriculture under subchapter D of chapter 2 of subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3838n et seq.) before October 1, 2013, or any payments required to be made in connection with the contract, agreement, or easement.

(B)

Funding

(i)

Use of prior year funds

Notwithstanding the repeal of subchapter D of chapter 2 of subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3838n et seq.), any funds made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation to carry out the grassland reserve program under that subchapter for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 shall be made available to carry out contracts, agreements, or easements referred to in subparagraph (A) that were entered into prior to October 1, 2013 (including the provision of technical assistance), provided that no such contract, agreement, or easement is modified so as to increase the amount of the payment received.

(ii)

Other

The Secretary may use funds made available to carry out the agricultural conservation easement program under subtitle H of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985, as added by section 1801 of this Act, to continue to carry out contracts, agreements, and easements referred to in subparagraph (A) using the provisions of law and regulation applicable to such contracts, agreements, and easements as in existence on September 30, 2013.

(e)

Environmental easement program

Chapter 3 of subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839 et seq. ) is repealed.

(f)

Conservation innovation grants and payments

(1)

Repeal

Section 1240H of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–8 ) is repealed.

(2)

Transitional provisions

(A)

Effect on existing contracts

The amendment made by this subsection shall not affect the validity or terms of any contract entered into by the Secretary of Agriculture under section 1240H of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–8 ) before October 1, 2013, or any payments required to be made in connection with the contract.

(B)

Funding

The Secretary may use funds made available to carry out conservation innovation grants and payments under section 1240S of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985, as added by section 1601 of this Act, to continue to carry out contracts referred to in subparagraph (A) using the provisions of law and regulation applicable to such contracts as they existed on September 30, 2013.

(g)

Agricultural water enhancement program

(1)

Repeal

Section 1240I of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–9 ) is repealed.

(2)

Transitional provisions

(A)

Effect on existing contracts and agreements

The amendment made by this subsection shall not affect the validity or terms of any contract or agreement entered into by the Secretary of Agriculture under section 1240I of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–9 ) before October 1, 2013, or any payments required to be made in connection with the contract or agreement.

(B)

Funding

(i)

Use of prior year funds

Notwithstanding the repeal of section 1240I of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–9 ), any funds made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation to carry out the agricultural water enhancement program under that section for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 shall be made available to carry out contracts and agreements referred to in subparagraph (A) that were entered into prior to October 1, 2013 (including the provision of technical assistance).

(ii)

Other

On exhaustion of funds made available under clause (i), the Secretary may use funds made available to carry out the agricultural conservation easement program under subtitle H of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985, as added by section 1801 of this Act, to continue to carry out contracts and agreements referred to in subparagraph (A) using the provisions of law and regulation applicable to such contracts and agreements as in existence on September 30, 2013.

(h)

Wildlife habitat incentive program

(1)

Repeal

Section 1240N of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839bb–1 ) is repealed.

(2)

Transitional provisions

(A)

Effect on existing contracts

The amendment made by this subsection shall not affect the validity or terms of any contract entered into by the Secretary of Agriculture under section 1240N of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839bb–1 ) before October 1, 2013, or any payments required to be made in connection with the contract.

(B)

Funding

(i)

Use of prior year funds

Notwithstanding the repeal of section 1240N of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839bb–1 ), any funds made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation to carry out the wildlife habitat incentive program under that section for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 shall be made available to carry out contracts referred to in subparagraph (A) which were entered into prior to October 1, 2013 (including the provision of technical assistance).

(ii)

Other

On exhaustion of funds made available under clause (i), the Secretary may use funds made available to carry out the environmental quality incentives program under chapter 4 of subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3839aa et seq.) to continue to carry out contracts referred to in subparagraph (A) using the provisions of law and regulation applicable to such contracts as in existence on September 30, 2013.

(i)

Great Lakes basin program

Section 1240P of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3839bb–3) is repealed.

(j)

Chesapeake Bay watershed program

(1)

Repeal

Section 1240Q of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839bb–4 ) is repealed.

(2)

Transitional provisions

(A)

Effect on existing contracts, agreements, and easements

The amendment made by this subsection shall not affect the validity or terms of any contract, agreement, or easement entered into by the Secretary of Agriculture under section 1240Q of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839bb–4 ) before October 1, 2013, or any payments required to be made in connection with the contract, agreement, or easement.

(B)

Funding

(i)

Use of prior year funds

Notwithstanding the repeal of section 1240Q of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3839bb–4 ), any funds made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation to carry out the Chesapeake Bay watershed program under that section for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 shall be made available to carry out contracts, agreements, and easements referred to in subparagraph (A) that were entered into prior to October 1, 2013 (including the provision of technical assistance).

(ii)

Other

The Secretary may use funds made available to carry out the regional conservation partnership program under subtitle I of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985, as added by section 1901 of this Act, to continue to carry out contracts, agreements, and easements referred to in subparagraph (A) using the provisions of law and regulation applicable to such contracts, agreements, and easements as in existence on September 30, 2013.

(k)

Cooperative conservation partnership initiative

(1)

Repeal

Section 1243 of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3843 ) is repealed.

(2)

Transitional provisions

(A)

Effect on existing contracts and agreements

The amendment made by this subsection shall not affect the validity or terms of any contract or agreement entered into by the Secretary of Agriculture under section 1243 of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3843 ) before October 1, 2013, or any payments required to be made in connection with the contract or agreement.

(B)

Funding

(i)

Use of prior year funds

Notwithstanding the repeal of section 1243 of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3843 ), any funds made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation to carry out the cooperative conservation partnership initiative under that section for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 shall be made available to carry out contracts and agreements referred to in subparagraph (A) that were entered into prior to October 1, 2013 (including the provision of technical assistance).

(ii)

Other

On exhaustion of funds made available under clause (i), the Secretary may use funds made available to carry out the regional conservation partnership program under subtitle I of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985, as added by section 1901 of this Act, to continue to carry out contracts and agreements referred to in subparagraph (A) using the provisions of law and regulation applicable to such contracts and agreements as in existence on September 30, 2013.

(l)

Desert terminal lakes program

(1)

Repeal

Section 2507 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (43 U.S.C. 2211 note) is repealed.

(2)

Transitional provisions

(A)

Effect on existing contracts

The amendment made by this subsection shall not affect the validity or terms of any contract entered into by the Secretary of Agriculture under section 2507 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 ( 43 U.S.C. 2211 note) before October 1, 2013, or any payments required to be made in connection with the contract.

(B)

Funding

The Secretary may use funds made available to carry out the agricultural conservation easement program under subtitle H of title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985, as added by section 1801 of this Act, to continue to carry out contracts referred to in subparagraph (A) using the provisions of law and regulation applicable to such contracts as in existence on September 30, 2013.

3002.

Technical and conforming amendments

(a)

Definitions

Section 1201(a) of the Food Security Act of 1985 ( 16 U.S.C. 3801(a) ) is amended in the matter preceding paragraph (1) by inserting , H, and I after E.

(b)

Priority resource concern

The following sections of the Food Security Act of 1985 are amended by inserting priority before resource concerns:

(1)

Section 1238A(e)(4)(B)(ii) ( 16 U.S.C. 3838a(e)(4)(B)(ii) ).

(2)

Section 1238D(3)(A) ( 16 U.S.C. 3838d(3)(A) ).

(3)

Section 1240A(1)(B)(vi) ( 16 U.S.C. 3839aa–1(1)(B)(vi) ).

3003.

Effective date

This Act, and the amendments made by this Act, shall take effect on October 1, 2013.