NB_300_22_59 - NB 300-22-59 LTP- Guidance for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Form CCC-902 Filing Requirement for NRCS Program Applicants and Participants.
NB 300-22-59 LTP- Guidance for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Form CCC-902 Filing Requirement for NRCS Program Applicants and Participants.
National Bulletin: 300-22-59
Date: September 22, 2022 
Subject: LTP- Guidance for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Form CCC-902 Filing Requirement for NRCS Program Applicants and Participants.




Purpose.  To communicate the FY 2023 requirements for NRCS program applicants and participants to comply with mandatory filing requirements for Form CCC-902, “Farm Operating Plan” to meet certain eligibility requirements for NRCS program participation and payments. 
 
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2022
 
Background.  The Food Security Act of 1985, as amended, and 7 CFR Part 1400 set forth payment eligibility and payment limitation requirements applicable to persons and legal entities applying for and participating in certain Farm Service Agency (FSA) and NRCS programs. NRCS and FSA share responsibility to administer statutory and regulatory provisions common to both agencies. With respect to payment eligibility and payment limitations, FSA is responsible for collecting information from program applicants and participants on required forms, determining eligibility, and providing determinations of eligibility to NRCS. FSA collects producer eligibility information using Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) form CCC-902, “Farm Operating Plan,” and as needed, form CCC-901, “Member Information.”

NRCS issued previous guidance for revised filing requirements and transition flexibilities through National Bulletin (NB) 300-21-7 and NB 300-22-5, and FSA issued guidance in FY 2021 though Notice PL-293. FSA or NRCS notified NRCS program applicants and participants in FY 2021 and FY 2022 of the requirements to file a CCC-902 and obtain a “determined” status prior to the end of FY 2022.
 
Explanation.   This bulletin provides guidance applicable to the following programs:

• Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)
• Agricultural Management Assistance Program (AMA)
• Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP)
• Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI)
• Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
• Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
• Emergency Watershed Protection Program – Floodplain Easements (EWPP-FPE)
• Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP)
• Regional Conservation Partnership Programs (RCPP)
• Waterbank
• Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)

Starting in FY 2023, persons and legal entities applying for and participating in the NRCS conservation programs listed above must have a CCC-902 in “determined” status prior to executing, obligating, or transferring a contract/agreement and prior to approving payments.

Note: While program payment limitations do not apply to RCPP and ACEP, other payment eligibility-related determinations such as payment attribution, foreign-person requirements, payments to minor children, and adjusted gross income (AGI) apply to all the NRCS conservation programs identified above. Refer to the FSA 6-PL Payment Limitation Handbook for FSA guidance and applicable NRCS program manuals for additional guidance.

Note: AGI waivers, including the RCPP or EQIP Water Management Entity AGI applicability waivers, do not waive the requirement for persons and legal entities to submit a CCC-902.

Note: Federally Recognized Indian Tribes (FSA business type 20) are exempt from payment limitation requirements. However, FSA requires this business type to file a CCC-902 to make land eligibility determinations. This business type will not have a “determined” status in Business File.

Note: For easement programs and Waterbank, the landowners of record must submit the CCC-902. For HFRP, EWPP-FPE and Waterbank only, landowner legal entities must have the CCC-902; however, for a landowner that is a person, the CCC-902 or the FSA “Business File System” screen print showing the individual’s name and business type of “Individual” is acceptable.

Actions:
State Conservationists and Directors must ensure staff follow the guidance in this bulletin and respective program manuals or handbooks to comply with mandatory eligibility requirements.

A. Coordination - NRCS and FSA must coordinate at the State and local levels to ensure NRCS applicants and participants comply with filing requirements. If the applicant or participant fails to comply, NRCS may determine that the applicant is ineligible for NRCS programs, or the participant is ineligible for payments.
B. Applicants - Each person or legal entity applying for NRCS programs must file the CCC-902 with FSA and receive a “determined” status in Business File to be eligible to enroll in an NRCS program and to receive program benefits in FY 2023 subject to the applicable program payment eligibility and payment limitation requirements.

C. New Participants – Each person or legal entity to be identified on a contract or agreement must have a CCC-902 in “determined” status prior to the execution, obligation, or transfer of such contract or agreement in FY 2023.
• Members of a legal entity are not required to file a CCC-902 unless such members are also applying for or are participating in an NRCS program independently.
• Members of informal joint operations, listed as participants of the contract receiving payments under their social security number (SSN), are not required to file a CCC-902. In this situation, the informal joint operation must have the CCC-902 in “determined” status. FSA makes the eligibility determination for the members at the time they make the determination for the informal joint operation.

D. Existing Participants – In FY 2022, NRCS allowed obligation of contracts/agreements for certain programs when the participant’s CCC-902 was in “filed” status as set forth in NB 300-22-5. Existing participants with a CCC-902 in “filed” status must have a “determined” status prior to the end of FY 2022. Beginning in FY 2023, participants will be ineligible for payments until their CCC-902 changes to a “determined” status. To minimize FY 2023 payment delays, NRCS staff should work closely with FSA now to complete determinations in FY 2022 for all existing program participants with CCC-902s in a “filed” status.

E. Fiscal Year-End Rollover – FSA will only roll over into FY 2023 those CCC-902s in “determined” status. This is a change from previous fiscal years where FSA rolled over CCC-902s in “filed” or “determined” status.
• Applicants who submit a CCC-902 late in FY 2022 and do not receive a “determined” status by the fiscal year-end rollover will not need to submit a new CCC-902 in FY 2023. FSA will continue processing those CCC-902s and update the record once the final determination is made. See section H below for monitoring requirements.
• States must elevate issues that cannot be resolved at the local level to the appropriate NHQ Deputy Chief for Programs (DCP) Division.

F. Manual Verification and Documentation of Findings
• Currently, NRCS staff cannot use agency business tools to verify the CCC-902 status requirement has been met.
• Unless notified otherwise by NHQ, States must manually verify and document compliance with the CCC-902 status requirements using the FSA Business File at https://intranet-apps.fsa.usda.gov/Subsidiary/Subsidiary.do.
• A CCC-902 for an Indian Tribe cannot be loaded in business file as the tribe is exempt from payment limitation requirements. FSA only accepts a manual CCC-902 for the land determination.
i. Obtain documentation from FSA to confirm that the CCC-902 was completed. Document in CD as “Filed”.
• States must follow guidance provided in this bulletin, business tools procedural guidance, and program-specific requirements found in applicable agency directives, including:
i. 440-CPM-530-E-530.42 for contract document management guidance for programs administered under this Part.
ii. NB 300-22-34 for RCPP18 Land Management and Rental Producer Contracts which require Form CCC-902 be included in the CD Bulk Obligation Package electronically filed in CD-DMS.
iii. For easement programs, documentation of the CCC-902 and its status for each landowner of record must be kept in the business tool used for the specific easement program as set forth in applicable program policy and directives (see 440-CPM-528, NI 300-300, and FY 2023 easement implementation guidance and financial management instructions).

G. Training - Training materials, recordings and frequently asked questions can be found at the DCP SharePoint site under the “Farm Bill Training Webinars” channel “ Farm Bill Training and Updates WebEx" folder.

H. Monitoring Requirements
• NRCS and FSA NHQ will continue to run reports on a regular basis to monitor persons or legal entities who filed form CCC-902 but did not obtain a “determined” status prior to the end of FY 2022. NRCS and FSA (National and State) must ensure the final FSA County Committee (COC) determination is recorded by the FSA county office in a timely manner. This is critical to avoid unnecessary delays in executing, obligating, or transferring a contract/agreement or approving a payment in FY 2023.
• The FSA local office will manually update the customer record or create a new plan in Business File once the COC determination is final.
• Participants with a CCC-902 in “pending”, “initiated”, or “filed” status are not eligible for program participation or payments beginning in FY 2023. NRCS and FSA must take necessary actions to ensure the customer understand actions needed to become compliant.
I. Notification – NRCS must follow notification and documentation requirements outlined in the respective program manuals. States must send a written notification to program applicants and participants with a timeframe to comply and include consequences if the required actions are not completed in the timeframe specified in the letter. See section J below for adverse actions guidance. Applicants that do not submit the required paperwork are not eligible.

J. Adverse Actions – NRCS must have adequate documentation and have provided written notification to participants of the filing requirements with a timeframe to comply prior to NRCS making an adverse determination.
• State conservationists should not terminate contracts/agreements if the applicant or participant complied with the requirements and is waiting for FSA to make the final determination.
• Noncompliance with the guidance in this bulletin may result in a violation of the terms of the contract/agreement and improper payments. Follow program and contracting policies in the applicable manuals for appropriate procedures which may include contract/agreement cancellation, termination, and cost recovery.
• FSA will notify NRCS when a determination adversely affects the program applicant’s or participant’s eligibility. NRCS must obtain all necessary information from FSA and the applicant/participant, as applicable, to take necessary actions to manage the application or contract/agreement.

Note: A CCC-902 in “Terminated” or “Suspended” status may be due to a change in the business structure. NRCS must work with FSA and the applicant/participant to ensure a new CCC-902 is in progress and document the findings. If applicable, NRCS must take necessary actions to notify the affected persons or legal entities of actions needed to regain compliance.
 
Contact. Submit questions about this national bulletin through the appropriate State contact to the Financial Assistance Programs Division SharePoint site at, Program Questions or for easements programs to EasementSupport@usda.gov
 
 

 /s/

KAREN WOODRICH
Acting Deputy Chief for Programs
 

 
 

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