Wednesday, August 6, 2014

USDA Conservation Interim Rule Open For Comment Through September 30

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) published what it is calling a "minor" interim rule (along with a request for public comment on the rule) in the August 1 edition of the Federal Register.  The interim rule became effective on that date, making nondiscretionary changes to several NRCS program regulations that required adjustments in light of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (commonly known as the "farm bill") or otherwise required to implement NRCS administrative "streamlining improvements and clarifications."

According to an NRCS summary, those changes include "addressing the required review of operating procedures of the State Technical Committee, adding reference of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act program regulations, adding reference of the RCPP to, and expanding the definition of, “acreage owned by Indian Tribes” under the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP), revising and simplifying the Regional Equity provision, and adjusting the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program to correspond with changes to payment provisions under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)."  Additionally, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack delegated to NRCS the agency's administrative responsibility to implement the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), as well as several internal NRCS administrative changes.

Interested persons may submit comments on the interim rule on or before September 30, 2014. The regulation can be accessed and comments submitted by using this link.

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