Title 7

SECTION 1468.24

1468.24 Compensation and funding for agricultural land easements.

§ 1468.24 Compensation and funding for agricultural land easements.

(a) Determining the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. (1) The Federal share will not exceed 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement, as determined using -

(i) An appraisal using the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices or the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions,

(ii) An areawide market analysis or survey, or

(iii) Another industry-approved method approved by NRCS.

(2) Prior to receiving funds for an agricultural land easement, the eligible entity must provide NRCS with an acceptable determination of the fair market value of the agricultural land easements that conforms to applicable industry standards and NRCS specifications and meets the requirements of this part.

(3) If the value of the easement is determined using an appraisal, the appraisal must be completed and signed by a State-certified general appraiser and must contain a disclosure statement by the appraiser. The appraisal must conform to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices or the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions as selected by the eligible entity.

(4) If the fair market value of the easement is determined using an areawide market analysis or survey, the areawide market analysis or survey must be completed and signed by a person determined by NRCS to have professional expertise and knowledge of agricultural land values in the area subject to the areawide market analysis or survey. The use of areawide market analysis or survey must be approved by NRCS prior to entering into an ALE-agreement.

(5) Requests to use another industry-approved method must be submitted to NRCS and approved by NRCS prior to entering into the ALE-agreement. NRCS will identify the applicable industry standards and any associated NRCS specifications based on the methodology approved.

(6) NRCS will review for quality assurance purposes, appraisals, areawide market analysis or surveys, valuation reports, or other information resulting from another industry-approved method approved for use by NRCS.

(7) Eligible entities must provide a copy of the applicable report or other information used to establish the fair market value of the agricultural land easement to NRCS at least 90 days prior to the planned easement closing date.

(8) Prior to the eligible entity's purchase of the easement, including payment of easement compensation to the landowner, NRCS must approve the determination of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement upon which the Federal share will be based.

(b) Determining the Federal share of the agricultural land easement. (1) Subject to the statutory limits, NRCS may provide up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. An eligible entity will provide a non-Federal share that is at least equivalent to the Federal share.

(2) The non-Federal share provided by an eligible entity may be comprised of -

(i) The eligible entity's own cash resources for payment of easement compensation to the landowner;

(ii) A charitable donation or qualified conservation contribution (as defined by section 170(h) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) from the landowner;

(iii) The procured costs paid by the eligible entity to a third-party for an appraisal, boundary survey, phase-I environmental site assessment, title commitment or report, title insurance, or closing cost; and

(iv) Up to 2 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement for easement stewardship and monitoring costs where the costs as identified in paragraphs (b)(2)(i) through (iii) of this section are not sufficient to meet the non-Federal share;

(3) NRCS may authorize a waiver to increase the Federal share of the cost of an agricultural land easement to an amount not to exceed 75 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement if -

(i) NRCS determines the lands to be enrolled are grasslands of special environmental significance as defined in this part,

(ii) An eligible entity provides a non-Federal share that is at least equivalent to the Federal share or comprises the remainder of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement, whichever is less, and

(iii) The eligible entity agrees to incorporate and enforce the additional necessary deed restrictions to manage and enforce the easement to ensure the grassland of special environmental significance attributes are protected.

(c) Uses of NRCS ACEP-ALE funds. (1) ACEP-ALE funds may not be provided or used for eligible entity expenditures for expenses, such as: Appraisals, areawide market analysis, legal surveys, access, title clearance or title insurance, legal fees, phase I environmental site assessments, closing services, development of agricultural land easement plans or component plans by the eligible entity, costs of easement monitoring, and other related administrative and transaction costs incurred by the eligible entity.

(2) NRCS will conduct its own technical and administrative review of appraisals, areawide market analysis, or other easement valuation reports and hazardous materials reviews.

(3) NRCS may provide technical assistance for the development of a conservation plan on those portions of a parcel that contain highly erodible cropland, or if requested, to assist in compliance with the terms and conditions of easements.