Margin Protection Program for Dairy and Dairy Product Donation Program
This rule implements regulations for the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) and the Dairy Product Donation Program (DPDP) as authorized in subtitle D of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill). MPP-Dairy provides dairy producers with risk management coverage that will pay producers when the difference between the price of milk and the cost of feed (the margin) falls below a certain level. MPP-Dairy provides basic catastrophic level coverage for an administrative fee, and greater coverage for a premium in addition to the administrative fee. Amounts of coverage and premiums vary based on producer selections. This rule specifies the eligibility requirements and payment formulas for MPP-Dairy. Under the related DPDP, which is a complimentary program designed to support producer margins by increasing the price of milk, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will buy dairy products when the margin falls below a certain level, and will distribute those products to individuals in low-income groups through public and private non-profit organizations. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will operate both programs using funds of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will assist in the distribution of the dairy products under DPDP.
Cotton Transition Assistance Program and General Provisions for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs
This rule implements the new Cotton Transition Assistance Program (CTAP) authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill). It also includes general provisions needed to implement CTAP, the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Programs. ARC and PLC will be implemented through a separate rulemaking and will provide benefits for other commodities. CTAP is a temporary program that provides payments to producers on farms for which cotton base acres were in existence as of September 30, 2013, as adjusted. It will operate for only the 2014 crop year and in certain counties for the 2015 crop year, and is intended to be a transition for producers on farms with upland cotton base acres that were in existence as of September 30, 2013, between the previous Direct and Counter- cyclical Payments Program (DCP) and the new Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX), which is authorized to begin no later than the 2015 crop year.
Changes to Existing Conservation Program Regulations
The Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Act) made several, nondiscretionary changes to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation programs. These conservation programs have existing regulations that require adjustments, including 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, the Secretary of Agriculture has delegated to NRCS administrative responsibility for implementation of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP) and internal NRCS administrative changes warrant updating the appropriate delegated official in the technical service provider (TSP) provision. This interim rule, with request for comments, implements changes to these NRCS conservation program regulations that are either necessitated by enactment of the 2014 Act or are required to implement administrative streamlining improvements and clarifications.