NB_440_22_22 - NB 440-22-22 PGM – Program Flexibilities to Support Food Prices and Availability
NB 440-22-22 PGM – Program Flexibilities to Support Food Prices and Availability
National Bulletin: 440-22-22
Date: June 13, 2022
Subject: PGM – Program Flexibilities to Support Food Prices and Availability


 
Purpose.   This national bulletin highlights authorized financial assistance (FA) program flexibilities to allow for changes in the planned conservation practices on existing conservation program contracts (CPCs) when a participant is seeking to change their current crop rotation and planned practice schedule. 
 
Expiration Date.   September 30, 2023 
 
Background.   The cost and availability of the global food supply is being adversely impacted by the pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine, rising input costs, and supply chain disruptions. In response, a recent USDA announcement has expanded crop insurance for double cropping to alleviate the food price increases. This expansion is part of a broad effort to assist farmers and ranchers impacted by these global events. 
 
Explanation.   State conservationists are encouraged to exercise maximum program flexibilities allowed in policy to manage Agricultural Management Assistance, Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) CPCs to support this effort. State conservationists are also encouraged to promote the flexibilities highlighted in this national bulletin (e.g., through newsletters and public announcements).

This national bulletin covers situations where a participant has a contract to implement a conservation practice or activity in one of the programs listed above and:

 

·     Is seeking to shift their current crop management activities to additional crop production; and

·     The change is inconsistent with practices or activities to be implemented under their current CPC schedule of operations.


Conservation practice standard (CPS) 340 “Cover Crop” and related activities will likely be the most impacted practice standard for participants seeking flexibilities. Program participants may request to delay implementation, substitute a practice or activity, or delete a practice to facilitate double cropping.

States must evaluate all requests on a case-by-case basis to determine what actions are within program policy. Follow policy in Title 440, Conservation Programs Manual, Part 530 (440-CPM-530), Subpart G, and applicable program-specific subparts to document any changes made to the schedule of operations. States should contact the Financial Assistance Programs Division (FAPD) for situations not covered in this national bulletin or in current policy. In limited situations, the policy waivers may be approved.

For contracts associated with RCPP projects, States should consult with project partners before authorizing any contract changes to ensure that partners are aware of the potential impact of any contract adjustments. If contract modifications result in the deobligation of FA funding, the funding may be re-obligated during the term of the project.

 

Delaying practice/activity implementation:

·     States may approve a request to delay practice or activity implementation if the delay is within the allowable program contract length. States may approve a modification to extend the contract length to the maximum allowed per statute. See 440-CPM-530 program-specific policy subparts for contract length requirements.

·     States do not need to reschedule contract activities if the participant will complete the items within 12 months from the original scheduled contract item. The delay may be documented with the completion of form NRCS-CPA-13, “Contract Review,” consistent with 440-CPM-530, Section 530.71.

·     Follow 440-CPM-530, Subpart I, to determine when form NRCS-CPA-153, “Agreement Covering Non-Compliance with Provisions of Conservation Program Contract (CPC),” is needed and for guidance on waiving the term of an initial NRCS-CPA-153.

·     See 440-CPM-530, Section 530.41, for guidance on waiving the requirement to implement a practice in the first 12 months of the contract.

 

Practice/activity substitution:

·     Per 440-CPM-530, Section 530.60D, if the originally scheduled conservation practice or activity is infeasible, a new contract item may be substituted to address the original resource concern or maintain performance levels as determined at the time of obligation.

Example:  CPS 328 “Conservation Crop Rotation” may be a suitable substitution for CPS 340 “Cover Crop.”

·     Follow 440-CPM-530, Subpart G, for documentation and signature requirements when processing a request to substitute a practice or activity.

 

Practice/activity deletion:

·     States should encourage participants to reschedule or substitute practices or activities, when possible, to limit the need for practice deletion. The policy in 440-CPM-530, Section 530.60D(2), may apply if the State conservationist determines none of the options above are feasible.

·     States may consider requests to reduce the extent of a planned practice to facilitate double cropping.

·     Follow guidance in 440-CPM-530, Subpart G, for documentation and signature requirements when approving the deletion of a practice.

 

Contract cancellations:

·     State conservationists may approve a participant’s request to cancel the contract to facilitate a change to accommodate additional crop production. Per 440-CPM-530, Section 530.84B, a cancellation is an equitable remedy that allows NRCS and the participants to mutually end the contract.

·     State conservationists should avoid termination of the contract if the participant is experiencing a hardship and none of the options outlined in this national bulletin are feasible. If termination is necessary, see recovery of cost policy in 440-CPM-530, Section 530.85A(2).

·     States must follow notification and documentation requirements outlined in 440-CPM-530, Subpart I.

 
Contact.  

Submit questions about this national bulletin to the Financial Assistance Programs Division SharePoint site at Program Questions.

 
 

 /s/

  CLINT EVANS 
  Acting Deputy Chief for Programs 

 
 
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