Home > 106th Congressional Bills > H.R. 5512 (ih) To amend chapter 23 of title 5, United States Code, to clarify the [Introduced in House] ...

H.R. 5512 (ih) To amend chapter 23 of title 5, United States Code, to clarify the [Introduced in House] ...


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106th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                H. R. 5511

 To amend the Food Security Act of 1985 to establish the conservation 
                           security program.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                            October 19, 2000

  Mr. Minge (for himself, Mrs. Emerson, Ms. Kaptur, Mr. Boehlert, Mr. 
     Oberstar, Mr. Thune, Mr. Condit, Mr. Cooksey, Mr. Peterson of 
Minnesota, Mr. Gutknecht, Mrs. Clayton, Mr. Bereuter, Mr. Pomeroy, Mr. 
 Bishop, Mr. Baldacci, Mr. Berry, Mr. Boswell, Mr. Phelps, Mr. Hill of 
Indiana, Mr. Kind, Mr. Edwards, Mr. Sawyer, Mr. Hinchey, Mr. Wynn, and 
Ms. Hooley of Oregon) introduced the following bill; which was referred 
                    to the Committee on Agriculture

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
 To amend the Food Security Act of 1985 to establish the conservation 
                           security program.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Conservation Security Act of 2000''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds that--
            (1) in addition to producing food and fiber, agricultural 
        producers can contribute to the public good by providing 
        improved soil productivity, clean air and water, wildlife 
        habitat, landscape and recreational amenities, and other 
        natural resources and environmental benefits;
            (2) agricultural producers in the United States have a long 
        history of embracing environmentally friendly conservation 
        practices and desire to continue those practices and engage in 
        new and additional conservation practices;
            (3) agricultural producers that engage in conservation 
        practices--
                    (A) may not receive economic rewards for 
                implementing conservation practices; and
                    (B) should be encouraged to engage in good 
                stewardship, and should be rewarded for doing so;
            (4) despite significant progress in recent years, 
        significant environmental challenges on agricultural land 
        remain;
            (5) since the 1930's, when agricultural conservation became 
        a national priority, Federal resources for conservation 
        assistance have declined over 50 percent, when adjusted for 
        inflation;
            (6) existing conservation programs do not provide 
        opportunities for all interested agricultural producers to 
        participate;
            (7) a voluntary, incentive-based conservation program open 
        to all agricultural producers that qualify and desire to 
        participate would--
                    (A) encourage greater improvement of natural 
                resources and the environment;
                    (B) address the economic implications of 
                conservation practices in a manner consistent with 
                international obligations of the United States; and
                    (C) enable United States farmers and ranchers to 
                produce food for a growing world population;
            (8) total farm conservation planning can help producers 
        increase profitability, enhance resource protection, and 
        improve quality of life;
            (9) on-farm practices may help deter invasive species that 
        jeopardize native species or impair agricultural land of the 
        United States; and
            (10) a conservation program described in paragraph (7) 
        would help achieve a better balance between Federal payments 
        supporting conservation on land used for agricultural 
        production and Federal payments for the purpose of retiring 
        agricultural land from production.

SEC. 3. CONSERVATION SECURITY PROGRAM.

    (a) In General.--Subtitle D of title XII of the Food Security Act 
of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3830 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the 
following:

               ``CHAPTER 6--CONSERVATION SECURITY PROGRAM

``SEC. 1240P. DEFINITIONS.

    ``In this chapter:
            ``(1) Conservation practice.--The term `conservation 
        practice' means a land-based farming technique that--
                    ``(A) requires planning, implementation, 
                management, and maintenance; and
                    ``(B) promotes 1 or more of the purposes described 
                in section 1240Q(a).
            ``(2) Conservation security contract.--The term 
        `conservation security contract' means a contract described in 
        section 1240Q(e).
            ``(3) Conservation security plan.--The term `conservation 
        security plan' means a plan described in section 1240Q(c).
            ``(4) Conservation security program.--The term 
        `conservation security program' means the program established 
        under section 1240Q(a).
            ``(5) Nutrient management.--The term `nutrient management' 
        means management of the quantity, source, placement, form, and 
        timing of the land application of nutrients and other additions 
        to soil--
                    ``(A) to achieve or maintain adequate soil 
                fertility for agricultural production; and
                    ``(B) to minimize the potential for loss of 
                environmental quality, including soil, water, and air 
                quality impairment.
            ``(6) Resource-conserving crop.--The term `resource-
        conserving crop' means--
                    ``(A) a perennial grass;
                    ``(B) a legume grown for use as forage or green 
                manure;
                    ``(C) a legume-grass mixture;
                    ``(D) a small grain grown in combination with a 
                grass or legume, whether interseeded or planted in 
                succession; and
                    ``(E) such other plantings, including trees, as the 
                Secretary considers appropriate for a particular area.
            ``(7) Resource-conserving crop rotation.--The term 
        `resource-conserving crop rotation' means a crop rotation 
        that--
                    ``(A) includes at least 1 resource-conserving crop;
                    ``(B) reduces erosion;
                    ``(C) improves soil fertility and tilth; and
                    ``(D) interrupts pest cycles.
            ``(8) Resource management system.--The term `resource 
        management system' means a system of conservation practices and 
        management relating to land or water use that is designed to 
        prevent resource degradation and permit sustained use of the 
        land and water.

``SEC. 1240Q. CONSERVATION SECURITY PROGRAM.

    ``(a) In General.--The Secretary shall establish a conservation 
security program to assist owners and operators of agricultural 
operations to promote, as is applicable for each operation--
            ``(1) conservation of soil, water, energy, and other 
        related resources;
            ``(2) soil quality protection and improvement;
            ``(3) water quality protection and improvement;
            ``(4) air quality protection and improvement;
            ``(5) soil, plant, or animal health and well-being;
            ``(6) diversity of flora and fauna;
            ``(7) on-farm conservation and regeneration of biological 
        resources, including plant and animal germplasm;
            ``(8) wetland restoration, conservation, and enhancement;
            ``(9) wildlife habitat restoration, conservation, and 
        enhancement;
            ``(10) reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and 
        enhancement of carbon sequestration;
            ``(11) protection of human health and safety;
            ``(12) environmentally sound management of invasive 
        species; or
            ``(13) any similar conservation purpose (as determined by 
        the Secretary).
    ``(b) Eligibility.--
            ``(1) In general.--To be eligible to participate in the 
        conservation security program (other than to receive technical 
        assistance under subsection (h)(6) for the development of 
        conservation security contracts), an owner or operator shall--
                    ``(A) develop and submit to the Secretary, and 
                obtain the approval of the Secretary of, a conservation 
                security plan that meets the requirements of subsection 
                (c); and
                    ``(B) enter into a conservation security contract 
                with the Secretary to carry out the conservation 
                security plan.
            ``(2) Ineligible land.--Land enrolled in the conservation 
        reserve program under subchapter B of chapter I shall not be 
        eligible for enrollment in the conservation security program 
        except for land enrolled in partial field conservation practice 
        enrollment options.
    ``(c) Conservation Security Plans.--
            ``(1) In general.--A conservation security plan shall--
                    ``(A) identify the resources and designated land to 
                be conserved under the conservation security plan;
                    ``(B) describe the tier of conservation practices, 
                and the particular conservation practices to be 
                implemented, maintained, or improved, in accordance 
                with subsection (d) on the land that will be enrolled 
                in the conservation security program covered by the 
                conservation security contract for the specified term;
                    ``(C) contain a schedule for the implementation, 
                maintenance, or improvement of the conservation 
                practices described in the conservation security plan 
                during the term of the conservation security contract;
                    ``(D) meet the requirements of the highly erodible 
                land and wetland conservation requirements of subtitles 
                B and C; and
                    ``(E) contain such other terms as the Secretary 
                determines to be appropriate.
            ``(2) Comprehensive planning.--The Secretary shall 
        encourage owners and operators that enter into conservation 
        security contracts--
                    ``(A) to undertake a comprehensive examination of 
                the opportunities for conserving natural resources and 
                improving the profitability, environmental health, and 
                quality of life in relation to their entire 
                agricultural operations;
                    ``(B) to develop a long-term strategy for 
                implementing, monitoring, and evaluating conservation 
                practices and environmental results in the entire 
                agricultural operation;
                    ``(C) to participate in other Federal conservation 
                programs; and
                    ``(D) to maintain the agricultural integrity of the 
                land.
            ``(3) State and local conservation priorities.--To the 
        maximum extent practicable and in a manner consistent with the 
        conservation security program, each conservation security plan 
        shall address the conservation priorities of the State and 
        locality in which the agricultural operation is located (as 
        determined by the State conservationist in consultation with 
        the State technical committee established under subtitle G and 
        the local working groups of the State technical committee).
    ``(d) Conservation Practices.--
            ``(1) In general.--
                    ``(A) Establishment of tiers.--The Secretary shall 
                establish 3 tiers of conservation practices that are 
                eligible for payment under a conservation security 
                contract.
                    ``(B) Conservation practice standards.--To the 
                maximum extent practicable, the Secretary shall 
                establish guidance standards for implementation of 
                eligible conservation practices that shall include 
                measurable goals for enhancing and preventing 
                degradation of resources.
            ``(2) Sustainable economic uses.--With respect to land 
        enrolled in the conservation security program, including land 
        use adjustment activities specified under Tier II, the 
        Secretary shall permit economic uses of the land that--
                    ``(A) maintain the agricultural nature of land;
                    ``(B) achieve the natural resource and 
                environmental benefits of the plan; and
                    ``(C) are approved as part of the conservation 
                security plan.
            ``(3) On-farm research and demonstration.--With respect to 
        land enrolled in the conservation security program that will be 
        maintained using a Tier II or Tier III conservation practice 
        established under paragraph (5), the Secretary may approve a 
        conservation security plan that includes on-farm research and 
        demonstration activities, including innovative approaches to--
                    ``(A) total farm planning;
                    ``(B) total resource management;
                    ``(C) integrated farming systems;
                    ``(D) germplasm conservation and regeneration;
                    ``(E) carbon sequestration;
                    ``(F) agro-ecological restoration and wildlife 
                habitat restoration;
                    ``(G) agro-forestry;
                    ``(H) invasive species control; or
                    ``(I) farm and environmental results monitoring and 
                evaluation.
            ``(4) Use of handbook and guides.--
                    ``(A) In general.--In determining eligible 
                conservation practices under the conservation security 
                program, the Secretary shall use the National Handbook 
                of Conservation Practices and the field office 
                technical guides of the Natural Resources Conservation 
                Service.
                    ``(B) Adjustments.--After providing notice and an 
                opportunity for public participation, the Secretary 
                shall make such adjustments to the National Handbook of 
                Conservation Practices as are necessary to carry out 
                this chapter.
                    ``(C) Pilot testing.--
                            ``(i) In general.--Under any of the 3 tiers 
                        of conservation practices established under 
                        paragraph (5), the Secretary may approve 
                        requests by an owner or operator for pilot 
                        testing of new technologies and innovative 
                        conservation practices and systems.
                            ``(ii) Incorporation into standards.--After 
                        evaluation by the Secretary and provision of 
                        notice and an opportunity for public 
                        participation, the Secretary may incorporate 
                        new technologies and innovative conservation 

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