Changes to Existing Conservation Program Regulations
The Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Act) made several nondiscretionary changes to NRCS conservation programs. These conservation programs have existing regulations that required adjustments. These adjustments include 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 RCPP to the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP), expanding the definition of ``acreage owned by Indian Tribes'' under 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 delegated to NRCS administrative responsibility for implementing 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. NRCS published an interim rule with a request for comments on August 1, 2014, to implement changes to these NRCS conservation program regulations that were either necessitated by enactment of the 2014 Act, or required to implement administrative streamlining improvements and clarifications. NRCS received six comments on the interim rule. In this document, NRCS issues a final rule to make permanent these changes and to incorporate two minor mandatory changes in two of the affected parts.