Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs
This rule implements the new Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Programs authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill). It also includes conforming changes to certain Farm Service Agency (FSA) regulations that apply to multiple programs. ARC and PLC provide producers a choice between a program that provides counter-cyclical type of payment supportPLC, and a revenue support type of programARC. During a defined election period, current producers can elect different programs for different covered commodities on a farm, for example, choosing PLC for corn and ARC county option for soybeans on the same farm. ARC offers the additional choice of a revenue guarantee based on average revenue for a county or on actual historical revenue for an individual farm. If a producer elects ARC individual coverage based on historical revenue for that specific farm, however, all the farm's covered commodities are elected with that option, with no option for PLC on that farm. This rule specifies the eligibility requirements, enrollment procedures, and payment calculations for ARC and PLC.
Environmental Policies and Procedures; Compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and Related Authorities
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) proposes to consolidate, update, and amend its regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA). FSA's NEPA regulations have been in place since 1980. Significant changes to the structure of FSA and the scope of FSA's programs require changes in FSA's NEPA regulations. The proposed changes would also better align FSA's NEPA regulations with the President's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) NEPA regulations and guidance and meet the FSA responsibilities for periodic review of their categorical exclusions. One component of the changes proposed to improve the clarity and consistency of the regulations, is the proposed additions to the existing list of categorical exclusions (CatExs). CatExs involve actions that typically do not result in individual or cumulative significant environmental effects or impacts and therefore do not merit further environmental review in an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This proposed rule would also propose to expand and clarify the list of actions that require an EA. In addition, this rule proposes conforming changes to existing references to FSA NEPA regulations in other current USDA regulations. The revisions to the FSA NEPA implementing regulations are intended to improve transparency and clarity of the FSA NEPA process for FSA program participants and to provide for a more efficient environmental review that will lead to better decisions and outcomes for stakeholders and the environment.