NB_300_22_34 - NB 300-22-34 LTP – FY 2022 Revised Guidance for Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Land Management and Rental (LMR) Producer Contract Development and Obligation
NB 300-22-34 LTP – FY 2022 Revised Guidance for Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Land Management and Rental (LMR) Producer Contract Development and Obligation
National Bulletin: NB 300-22-34 Date: May 10, 2022
Subject: LTP – FY 2022 Revised Guidance for Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Land Management and Rental (LMR) Producer Contract Development and Obligation


 
Purpose.  This bulletin provides guidance for FY 2022 contract development and obligation for RCPP LMR producer contracts and replaces NB 300-21-51, “Guidance for Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Land Management and Rental (LMR) Producer Contract Development and Obligation.”
 
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2023
 
Background.  The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) authorized NRCS to enter into RCPP contracts with producers to address resource concerns. NRCS issued guidance for application processing through temporary directives and Title 440, Conservation Programs Manual (CPM), Part 531, ”RCPP,” and Part 530, “Working Lands Conservation Programs Manual,” Subpart S, “RCPP – LMR Producer Contracts.”  Additionally, NB 300-22-51, “Guidance for RCPP- LMR Producer Contract Development and Obligation” provided guidance for contract development and obligation for FY 2021-2022. 
 
Explanation.  This bulletin contains revised guidance to remove manual steps that are no longer required due to increased functionality in Conservation Desktop (CD). The guidance was also updated to reference permanent policy that was issued since NB-300-21-51 was published.

State conservationists and directors of the Pacific Islands and Caribbean Areas will use the guidance within this national bulletin to finalize contract documents, make manual final eligibility determinations, and provide to National Headquarters (NHQ) documentation needed to complete a bulk obligation process for LMR producer contracts. States must use this bulletin in conjunction with the following: 


  • RCPP rule at 7 CFR Part 1464;
  • Title 440, CPM, Part 531 and Title 440, CPM, Part 530 (primarily Subpart C, “Application for Assistance;” Subpart E, “Contract Development and Requirements;” Subpart O, “Exhibits;” and Subpart S, “RCPP – LMR Producer Contracts”)
  • National Instruction (NI) 440-310, “NRCS Program Ranking through Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART);”
  • Project-specific RCPP programmatic agreements; and
  • Other documents posted on the RCPP SharePoint site.

Per 530.500A(4), LMR contracting authority is project specific. NRCS only allows new program contract obligations during the term of the programmatic partnership agreement (PPA) for which RCPP funds are budgeted and must be consistent with the terms of the PPA for which State received RCPP funding.

Manual processes outlined in the guidance below may be replaced once additional software functionality is released as directed by NHQ. 

RCPP LMR Producer Contract Development

1.    Responsibilities and Delegations

  • State conservationists will follow guidance in 440-CPM-530.3, “Delegation Authority,” to document delegations for actions required to obligate LMR producer contracts.
  • States must ensure they follow all applicable separation of duties throughout the contracting process since NRCS does not currently have electronic system controls in place to monitor this.

2.    Final Eligibility Determinations

  • Verify that all LMR producer contract participants comply with producer, land, and program eligibility requirements in 440-CPM-530-C and 530.502,
  • Use attachment A, “RCPP18 LMR Producer Contracts Eligibility Determination Chart,” to determine that each contract participant meets the mandatory basic eligibility requirements including compliance with the following—
  • Highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions;
  • Adjusted gross income (AGI) payment limitations unless an AGI waiver is approved by the financial assistance program division director prior to contract obligation. See 440-CPM-530.23C, and 530.502B for different waiver authority guidance, and NI 440-314, “Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Waiver Process.”
  • Confirm that participants have effective control of the land.
  • Confirm that the LMR producer contract complies with project specific requirements in the PPA and in the applicable Notice of Funding Opportunity (NFO).

3.    Reviews and Quality Assurance

  • Per 440-CPM-530.505D, field offices must complete the “RCPP18 LMR Producer Contract Preobligation Checklist” in 440-CPM-530.520D prior to obligation. States must follow guidance in 440-CPM-530.505D to review 100 percent of all LMR approved applications.
  • States must use attachment B, “RCPP18 LMR Producer Contract CD Transactions Obligation Checklist,” to document review of all documents necessary for the manual bulk obligation are present.
  • States must conduct second level obligation reviews consistent with agency policy. See 440-CPM-530.41E, “Contract Obligation,” for additional guidance.

 4.    Contract Limitations

  • LMR producer contracts must adhere to contract limits established in 440-CPM-530.506E.
  • Planners must manually calculate and enter applicable payment caps on the NRCS-CPA-1155 following training provided by NHQ. These caps must be used to ensure the contract does not exceed the applicable contract limit and to apply commensurate AGI reductions due to ineligible members. See 440-CPM-530.50G for more information related to payment caps. Contact NHQ for guidance, if needed.

5.    Contract Development Requirements

  • See 440-CPM-530.42 for a list of required contract documents and filing requirements. See the obligation process below for additional documents that must be uploaded to the document management system (DMS) as part of the bulk obligation process.
  • Schedule of Operations—RCPP allows a practice, enhancement, or rental activity to be scheduled on the same land multiple times as long as each instance addresses a resource concern. See 440-CPM-530.505C(4)for additional guidance and criteria.
Reminder: Please refer to 440-CPM-530.51C(1) and 440-CPM-530.506(F) for additional guidance on duplication of payment.
  • Vendors—Vendor records must be available in the Financial Management Modernization Initiative (FMMI) system for the bulk obligation process. States can use ProTracts vendor records if they exist for the participant. If a ProTracts vendor record does not exist, States will need to establish the participant vendor record through myFPAC Services. States can access myFPAC Services at https://usdafpacbc.servicenowservices.com/fpac and use the Financial Management module with request type “Vendor Coordination,” request type subcategory “Vendor,” and upload the completed attachment C, “Vendor Coordination Request Form,” for each participant that needs a vendor record. Functionality to establish and edit participant vendors in CD is under development. When that functionality is available, it will be used to establish the participant vendor records.
  • Funds Availability and Verification— Funds availability will be documented by reserving funds in CD. The “Funding Availability and Verification Worksheet” required in retired NB-300-51 is no longer needed.
  • Contract Length—See 440-CPM-530.505B for guidance on the maximum allowable contract length for RCPP LMR producer contracts.

6.    Contract Documents and Signature Requirements

  • Follow the guidance in attachment D, “High Level Steps for the Obligation of LMR Producer Contracts,” which identifies required contract documents and explains the sequence for obtaining required signatures on NRCS-CPA-1155 and NRCS-CPA-1202.
  • See 440-CPM-530.25 and NI 440-319 for signature documentation and acceptable signature methods guidance.
  • The field office must provide RCPP LMR participants with a copy of all contract documents, including standards, specifications, designs, rental activity implementation requirements, or other documents, required for the participant to implement practices or activities included in their contracts.

7.    Conservation Desktop (CD)

  • States will generate the NRCS-CPA-1155 and NRCS-CPA-1202 contract document in CD prior to obtaining participant signatures.
  • States must manually record the following in the CD Applications and Agreements module as determined from hard-copy forms:
  • Client, Land, and Program eligibility determinations.
  • Participant self-certification of historically underserved status.
  • Participant signature and date from NRCS-CPA-1155, NRCS-CPA-1202, and the 1202 appendix.

          Note: If more than one participant signed on different dates, enter into
    CD the latest date a participant signed.

  • NRCS approving official signature and date (this is the obligation date) from NRCS-CPA-1155 and NRCS-CPA-1202.
  • States will export a Bulk Obligation Data Report from the Manage CD Applications and Agreements page for all active agreements in CD ready for recording the obligation in FMMI.

8.    Obligation Package

       Once States have an active agreement record in CD they will—

  • Prepare the obligation package using attachment C, “RCPP18 LMR CD Transactions Obligation Checklist” and the “APSB Submission Checklist” located in exhibit 440-CPM-531.203D. Upload as a single PDF into DMS using the naming convention, ”[CDAgreementID]_Obligation Package.” Attachment E provides States with the lesson plan for the DMS upload.
  • Submit the CD Bulk Obligation Data Report to RCPP18Easements@usda.gov once a day, as applicable, through September 22, 2022, for FY 2022 obligations or until integrated obligations are enabled in CD.
  • Documentation of the Delegation of Authority for each state must be submitted to RCPP18Easements@usda.gov prior to or with the first obligation package. If the state’s delegation of authority lists the positions to which delegations are made, the documentation submitted must include a list of the names of the individuals holding those positions. See exhibit 530.143N for Delegation of Authority Worksheet for financial assistance programs.

       The NHQ obligation team will—

  • Review the obligation packages for completeness and accuracy and populate the bulk obligation spreadsheet.
  • Submit the obligation spreadsheet to the FPAC Business Center, Financial Management Division, Financial Operations Branch, Payment Operations Section for the obligations to be recorded directly in FMMI.
  • Populate the FMMI obligation number in CD once the FPAC Business Center has recorded the obligation in FMMI.
  • Notify States via email from the RCPP18Easements@usda.gov about obligation status as completed or when follow-up is needed with the actions States must take to resolve the findings.

9.    Allocation Monitoring

  • Per 440-CPM-530.501, States must monitor fund balances to ensure program funding allocated for a project is not exceeded and is managed within PPA activity and contract type parameters, which must also be reflected in CD Funds Manager Spending Plans. See 440-CPM-530.501 for additional guidance.

10. Deadlines

  • States must submit all FY 2022 LMR producer contract obligation packages within 2 weeks of execution and within the quarter they are executed, but no later than September 22, 2022.
  • To meet the National obligation deadline, States must immediately elevate any issues delaying obgligations.

11. Training

  • Recordings of previous trainings can be found at on the RCPP Coordinator Resources SharePoint site in the Training Materials Section at:
 
Contact.  Direct policy questions about this bulletin to the FAPD SharePoint site and bulk obligation process questions by email to RCPP18Easements@usda.gov
 
 

 /s/

CLINT EVANS
Acting Deputy Chief for Programs

 
 
Attachment A - RCPP18 LMR Producer Contracts Eligibility Determination Chart
Attachment B - RCPP18 LMR Producer Contract CD Transactions Obligation Checklist
Attachment C - Vendor Coordination Request Form
Attachment D - High Level Steps for the Obligation of LMR Producer Contracts
Attachment E - Lesson Plan for Uploading Bulk Obligation Package to DMS
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