1466.26 Contract violations and terminations.§ 1466.26 Contract violations and terminations.
(a) NRCS may terminate a contract -
(1) Without the consent of the participant where NRCS determines that the participant violated the contract; or
(2) With the consent of the participant if NRCS determines that the termination is in the public interest.
(b)(1) NRCS may allow a participant in a contract terminated in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (a) of this section to retain a portion of any payments received appropriate to the effort the participant has made to comply with the contract, or in cases of hardship, when forces beyond the participant's control prevented compliance with the contract.
(2) The condition that is the basis for the participant's inability to comply with the contract must not have existed at the time the contract was executed by the participant.
(3) If a participant believes that such a hardship condition exists, the participant may submit a request with NRCS for relief pursuant to this paragraph and any such request must contain documentation sufficient for NRCS to make a determination that this hardship condition exists.
(c)(1) If NRCS determines that a participant is in violation of the terms of a contract, O&M agreement, or documents incorporated by reference into the contract, NRCS may give the participant a reasonable period of time, as determined by NRCS, to correct the violation and comply with the terms of the contract and attachments thereto.
(2) If a participant continues to be in violation after such reasonable time, NRCS may terminate the EQIP contract in accordance with § 1466.26(f).
(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (c) of this section, a contract termination is effective immediately upon a determination by NRCS that the participant -
(1) Submitted false information or filed a false claim;
(2) Engaged in any act, scheme, or device for which a finding of ineligibility for payments is permitted under the provisions of § 1466.35; or
(3) Incurred a violation of the contract provisions that cannot be corrected in a timeframe established by NRCS.
(e) If NRCS terminates a contract due to breach of contract, the participant forfeits all rights to future payments under the contract, pay liquidated damages, and refund all or part of the payments received, plus interest.
(1) NRCS may require a participant to provide only a partial refund of the payments received if a previously installed conservation practice can function independently and is not adversely affected by the violation or the absence of other conservation practices that would have been installed under the contract.
(2) NRCS may reduce or waive the liquidated damages depending upon the circumstances of the case.
(3) When terminating a contract, NRCS may reduce the amount of money owed by the participant by a proportion that reflects the good faith effort of the participant to comply with the contract or the existence of hardships beyond the participant's control that have prevented compliance with the contract.
(4) Any participant whose EQIP contract is terminated under paragraph (d) of this section may be subject to debarment or suspension under 7 CFR part 1407.
(f) NRCS may terminate a contract that provides payments to a participant for conservation practices related to organic production, if NRCS determines that the participant is not implementing practices according to provisions of the contract agreement or does not meet provisions of this part.