1466.37 On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials.§ 1466.37 On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials.
(a) Purpose. The purpose of the On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials (OFCIT) under this section is for NRCS to facilitate and incentivize experimentation and testing of new and innovative conservation approaches on farms in a diversity of geographic regions and on multiple scales.
(b) Eligibility determinations. When determining eligibility for a private or nongovernmental organization, whether or not that organization is operated for profit, to enroll in OFCIT, NRCS may consider multiple factors including -
(1) The extent to which the organization conducts business that is related to agriculture;
(2) The quantity and quality of experience the organization has working with agricultural producers; or
(3) Other factors related to the organization's likelihood to succeed or the proposed trial's likelihood to fulfill the purpose of OFCIT, as determined by the Chief.
(c) Agreements with eligible entities. An OFCIT agreement with an eligible entity shall contain provisions indicating how NRCS or the eligible entity shall provide technical assistance to producers.
(d) Innovation determinations. Notwithstanding any limitation in § 1466.31(f) of this subpart, when determining whether to approve of a proposed conservation approach as new or innovative, NRCS may consider multiple factors including -
(1) The extent to which the proposed conservation approach makes use of new or innovative conservation practices, systems, or technology;
(2) The extent to which the proposed conservation approach applies conservation practices, systems, or technology in new or innovative ways, geographic regions, or agricultural sectors; or
(3) The extent to which the proposed conservation approach uses new or innovative processes or financing for implementing conservation practices or activities.
(e) Requirements for producers. When considering whether to enroll the land of a producer under an OFCIT agreement, NRCS first determines that -
(1) The participating producer complies with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions of 7 CFR part 12;
(2) The producer controls the land for the term of the proposed OFCIT agreement, unless an exception is made by the Chief in the case of land administered by the BIA, Indian lands, or other instances in which the Chief determines that there is sufficient assurance of control;
(3) The producer is within the income limitations set forth in part 1400, subpart F of this chapter; and
(4) The land subject to the project proposal meets the definition of eligible land under § 1466.3.
(f) Restriction on administrative cost. None of the funds made available to carry out this section may be used to pay for the administrative expenses of an eligible entity.
(g) OFCIT agreement period. (1) An OFCIT agreement shall be for a period of at least 3 years, unless the Chief determines that a longer period is necessary.
(2) The contract period in excess of 3 years shall be no longer than reasonably and foreseeably necessary to fulfill the purpose of OFCIT, as determined by the Chief.
(3) When determining whether to set a contract period longer than 3 years, NRCS shall consider whether such a period is appropriate including whether the period supports -
(i) Adaptive management over multiple crops years; and
(ii) Adequate data collection and analysis by a producer or eligible entity to report the natural resource and agricultural production benefits of the new or innovative conservation approaches to the Secretary.
(h) Data collection. For all OFCIT contracts, NRCS shall ensure that appropriate data is collected and analyzed while respecting relevant privacy safeguards by transforming the data into statistical or aggregated form so as not to include any identifiable or personal information of individual producers.
(i) OFCIT payments. Pursuant to an OFCIT agreement, NRCS may provide -
(1) Technical assistance to a participating producer or eligible entity with respect to the design, installation, and management of the new or innovative conservation approaches;
(2) Technical assistance to a participating eligible entity with respect to data analyses of the OFCIT; and
(3) Financial assistance to a participating producer (either directly or through an eligible entity) that may include payments to compensate for income foregone, as appropriate to address the increased economic risk potentially associated with new or innovative conservation approaches:
(j) Absence of payment limitation. Neither the contract payment limitation set forth in § 1466.22 nor the aggregate payment limitation set forth in § 1466.24 shall apply to OFCIT agreements.