(a) Definitions

In this section:

(1) Eligible land

Terms Used In 16 USC 3839aa-25

  • Amendment: A proposal to alter the text of a pending bill or other measure by striking out some of it, by inserting new language, or both. Before an amendment becomes part of the measure, thelegislature must agree to it.
  • Contract: A legal written agreement that becomes binding when signed.
  • Fiscal year: The fiscal year is the accounting period for the government. For the federal government, this begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. The fiscal year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends; for example, fiscal year 2006 begins on October 1, 2005 and ends on September 30, 2006.

Notwithstanding sections 3839aa-21(4) and 3839aa-22(b)(2) of this title, the term “eligible land” means cropland on a farm for which base acres have been maintained by the Secretary under section 9012(d)(3) of title 7.

(2) Initiative

The term “initiative” means the grassland conservation initiative established under subsection (b).

(b) Establishment and purpose

The Secretary shall establish within the program a grassland conservation initiative for the purpose of assisting producers in protecting grazing uses, conserving and improving soil, water, and wildlife resources, and achieving related conservation values by conserving eligible land through grassland conservation contracts under subsection (e).

(c) Election

Beginning in fiscal year 2019, the Secretary shall provide a 1-time election to enroll eligible land in the initiative under a contract described in subsection (e).

(d) Method of enrollment

The Secretary shall–

(1) notwithstanding subsection (b) of section 3839aa-23 of this title, determine under subsection (c) of that section that eligible land ranks sufficiently high under the evaluation criteria described in subsection (b) of that section; and

(2) enroll the eligible land in the initiative under a contract described in subsection (e).

(e) Grassland conservation contract

(1) In general

Notwithstanding section 3839aa-23(a)(1) of this title, to enroll eligible land in the initiative under a grassland conservation contract, a producer shall agree–

(A) to meet or exceed the stewardship threshold for not less than 1 priority resource concern by the date on which the contract expires; and

(B) to comply with the terms and conditions of the contract.

(2) Terms

A grassland conservation contract entered into under this section shall–

(A)(i) be for a single 5-year term; and

(ii) not be subject to renewal or reenrollment under section 3839aa-23(e) of this title; and

(B) be subject to section 3839aa-23(d) of this title.

(3) Early termination

The Secretary shall allow a producer that enters into a grassland conservation contract under this section–

(A) to terminate the contract at any time; and

(B) to retain payments already received under the contract.

(f) Grassland conservation plan

The grassland conservation plan developed for eligible land shall be limited to–

(1) eligible land; and

(2) resource concerns and activities relating to grassland.

(g) Payments

(1) In general

Beginning in fiscal year 2019, of the funds made available for this subpart under section 3841(a)(3)(B) of this title, and notwithstanding any payment under title I of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, an amendment made by that title, or section 3839aa-24(c) of this title, the Secretary shall make annual grassland conservation contract payments to the producer of any eligible land that is the subject of a grassland conservation contract under this section.

(2) Payment noneligibility

A grassland conservation contract under this section shall not be–

(A) eligible for payments under section 3839aa-24(d) of this title; or

(B) subject to the payment limitations under this subpart.

(3) Limitation

The amount of an annual payment under this subsection shall be $18 per acre, not to exceed the number of base acres on a farm.

(h) Considered planted

The Secretary shall consider land enrolled under a grassland conservation contract under this section during a crop year to be planted or considered planted to a covered commodity (as defined in section 9011 of title 7) during that crop year.

(i) Other contracts

A producer with an agricultural operation that contains land eligible under this section and land eligible under section 3839aa-23 of this title–

(1) may enroll the land eligible under this section through a contract under this section or under section 3839aa-23 of this title; and

(2) shall not be prohibited from enrolling the land eligible under section 3839aa-23 of this title through a contract under section 3839aa-23 of this title.