16 USC 3812 - Exemptions

(a) Persons eligible for program benefits in connection with production or reduced production of crops on certain lands; eligibility based upon compliance with conservation plan by January 1, 1995; minimization of documentation 

(1) During the period beginning on December 23, 1985, and ending on the later of January 1, 1990, or the date that is 2 years after the date land on which a crop of an agricultural commodity is produced was mapped by the Soil Conservation Service for purposes of classifying such land under the land capability classification system in effect on December 23, 1985, except as provided in paragraph (2), no person shall become ineligible under section 3811 of this title for program loans, payments, and benefits as the result of the production of a crop of an agricultural commodity on any land that was
(A) cultivated to produce any of the 1981 through 1985 crops of an agricultural commodity; or
(B) set aside, diverted or otherwise not cultivated under a program administered by the Secretary for any such crops to reduce production of an agricultural commodity.

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(2) If, as of January 1, 1990, or 2 years after the Soil Conservation Service has completed a soil survey for the farm, whichever is later, a person is actively applying a conservation plan, such person shall have until January 1, 1995, to comply with the plan without being subject to program ineligibility. In carrying out this subsection, the Secretary, Soil Conservation Service, and local soil conservation districts shall minimize the quantity of documentation a person must submit to comply with this paragraph.
(3) Any person who owns or operates highly erodible land that was the subject of a contract entered into under subpart B of part I of subchapter IV of this chapter shall only be required to apply a conservation plan established under this subchapter. The person shall not be required to meet a higher conservation standard than the standard applied to other highly erodible cropland located within the same area. If the persons conservation plan requires structures to be constructed, the person shall have until 2 years after the expiration of such contract to comply with the conservation plan, or a longer period of time if the Secretary determines compliance is otherwise technically or economically not feasible, or such longer period is otherwise appropriate, before such person will be subject to program ineligibility with respect to such land under section 3811 of this title.
(4) On the expiration of a contract entered into under subpart B of part I of subchapter IV of this chapter, the provisions of this subchapter shall apply to the acreage that was the subject of such contract.
(b) Persons eligible for program benefits in connection with production of certain planted crops or production of crops on highly erodible land 
No person shall become ineligible under section 3811 of this title for program loans, payments, and benefits as the result of the production of a crop of an agricultural commodity
(1) planted before December 23, 1985; or
(2) planted during any crop year beginning before December 23, 1985.
(c) Ineligibility for loans and payments under section 3811 
No person shall become ineligible under section 3811 of this title for program loans, payments, and benefits as the result of the production of a crop of an agricultural commodity or the designation of land to be set aside, diverted, devoted to conservation uses, or otherwise not cultivated under a program administered by the Secretary to reduce production of an agricultural commodity (hereafter in this subsection referred to as set aside)
(1) on highly erodible land in an area
(A) within a conservation district, under a conservation system that has been approved by a conservation district after the district has determined that the conservation system is in conformity with technical standards set forth in the Soil Conservation Service technical guide for such district; or
(B) not within a conservation district, under a conservation system determined by the Secretary to be adequate for the protection of highly erodible land that has been set aside or for the production of such agricultural commodity on any highly erodible land subject to this chapter; or

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(2) on highly erodible land that is planted or set aside in reliance on a determination by the Soil Conservation Service that such land was not highly erodible land, except that this paragraph shall not apply to any agricultural commodity that was planted or set aside on any land after the Soil Conservation Service determines that such land is highly erodible land; or
(3) on highly erodible land planted to alfalfa during each of the 1981 through 1985 crop years as part of a rotation practice approved by the Secretary, if the person has submitted a conservation plan, in which case, such person shall have until June 1, 1988, to comply with the plan without being subject to program ineligibility under section 3811 of this title.
(d) Program ineligibility inapplicable to pre-December 23, 1985, section 3811 loans 
Section 3811 of this title shall not apply to a loan described in section 3811 of this title made before December 23, 1985.
(e) Limitations on ineligibility for tenants 
If a tenant is determined to be ineligible for payments and other benefits under section 3811 of this title, the Secretary may limit such ineligibility only to the farm which is the basis for such ineligibility determination if
(1) the tenant has established to the satisfaction of the Secretary that
(A) the tenant has made a good faith effort to meet the requirements of this section, including enlisting the assistance of the Secretary to obtain a reasonable conservation plan for such farm; and
(B) the landlord on the farm refuses to comply with such plan on such farm; and
(2) the Secretary determines that such lack of compliance is not a part of a scheme or device to avoid such compliance.

The Secretary shall provide an annual report to the Committee on Agriculture of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry of the Senate concerning the ineligibility determinations limited during the previous 12-month period under this subsection.

(f) Graduated penalties 

(1) Ineligibility 
No person shall become ineligible under section 3811 of this title for program loans, payments, and benefits as a result of the failure of the person to actively apply a conservation plan, if the Secretary determines that the person has acted in good faith and without an intent to violate this subchapter.
(2) Eligible reviewers 
A determination of the Secretary, or a designee of the Secretary, under paragraph (1) shall be reviewed by the applicable
(A) State Executive Director, with the technical concurrence of the State Conservationist; or
(B) district director, with the technical concurrence of the area conservationist.
(3) Period for implementation 
A person who meets the requirements of paragraph (1) shall be allowed a reasonable period of time, as determined by the Secretary, but not to exceed 1 year, during which to implement the measures and practices necessary to be considered to be actively applying the conservation plan of the person.
(4) Penalties 

(A) Application 
This paragraph applies if the Secretary determines that
(i) a person has failed to comply with section 3811 of this title with respect to highly erodible cropland, and has acted in good faith and without an intent to violate section 3811 of this title; or
(ii) the violation
(I) is technical and minor in nature; and
(II) has a minimal effect on the erosion control purposes of the conservation plan applicable to the land on which the violation has occurred.
(B) Reduction 
If this paragraph applies under subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall, in lieu of applying the ineligibility provisions of section 3811 of this title, reduce program benefits described in section 3811 of this title 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.
(5) Subsequent crop years 
Any person whose benefits are reduced for any crop year under this subsection shall continue to be eligible for all of the benefits described in section 3811 of this title for any subsequent crop year if, prior to the beginning of the subsequent crop year, the Secretary determines that the person is actively applying a conservation plan according to the schedule specified in the plan.
(g) Preparation or revision of conservation plan 
The Secretary, in providing assistance to an individual in the preparation or revision of a conservation plan under this section, shall provide such individual with information
(1) concerning cost effective and applicable erosion control measures that may be available to such individual to meet the requirements of this section; and
(2) concerning crop flexibility, base adjustment, and conservation assistance options that may be available to such individual to meet the requirements of this section, including the provisions of titles X, XII, and XIII of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (or the amendments made by such titles).
(h) Noncommercial production of agricultural commodities 
Section 3811 of this title shall not apply to the noncommercial production of agricultural commodities on a farm if such production is limited to two acres or less and if the Secretary determines that such production is not intended to circumvent the conservation requirements otherwise applicable to lands under this subchapter.