SUBCHAPTER 59D ‑ AGRICULTURE COST SHARE PROGRAM FOR NONPOINT SOURCE POLLUTION CONTROL

 

SECTION .0100 - AGRICULTURE COST SHARE PROGRAM

 

02 NCAC 59D .0101          PURPOSE

This Subchapter describes the operating procedures for the division under the guidance of the commission implementing the Agriculture Cost Share Program for Nonpoint Source Pollution Control.  Procedures and guidelines for participating districts are also described.  The purpose of the voluntary program is to reduce the delivery of agricultural nonpoint source (NPS) pollution into the water courses of the state.

 

History Note:        Authority G.S. 106-840; 106-850; 139‑4;

Eff. May 1, 1987;

Recodified from 15A NCAC 6E .0001 Eff. December 20, 1996;

Transferred from 15A NCAC 06E .0101 Eff. May 1, 2012.

02 NCAC 59D .0102          DEFINITIONS FOR SUBCHAPTER 59d

In addition to the definitions found in G.S. 143-215.74, the following terms used in this Subchapter have the following meanings:

(1)           Agriculture Nonpoint Source (NPS) Pollution means pollution originating from a diffuse source as a result of agricultural activities related to crop production, production and management of poultry and livestock, land application of waste materials, and management of forestland incidental to agricultural production.

(2)           Allocation means the annual share of the state's appropriation to participating districts.

(3)           Applicant means a person(s) who applies for best management practice cost sharing monies from the district.  An applicant may also be referred to as a cooperator.  All entities, with which the applicant is associated, including those in other counties, shall be considered the same applicant.

(4)           Average Costs means the calculated cost, determined by averaging actual costs and current cost estimates necessary for best management practice implementation.  Actual costs include labor, supplies, and other direct costs required for physical installation of a practice.

(5)           Best Management Practice (BMP) means a structural or nonstructural management based practice used singularly or in combination to reduce nonpoint source inputs to receiving waters.

(6)           Conservation Plan of Operation (CPO) means a written plan scheduling the applicant's decisions concerning land use, and both cost shared and non‑cost shared BMPs to be installed and maintained on the operating unit.

(7)           Cost Share Agreement means an annual or long term agreement between the applicant and the district which defines the BMPs to be cost shared, rate and amount of payment, minimum practice life, and date of BMP installation.  The agreement shall state that the recipient shall maintain and repair the practice(s) for the specified minimum life of the practice.  The Cost Share Agreement shall have a maximum contract life of three years for BMP installation.  The district shall perform an annual status review during the installation period.

(8)           Cost Share Incentive (CSI) means a predetermined fixed payment paid to an applicant for implementing a BMP in lieu of cost share.

(9)           Cost Share Rate means a cost share percentage paid to an applicant for implementing BMPs.

(10)         Detailed Implementation Plan means the plan approved by the commission that specifies the guidelines for the current program, year including BMPs that will be eligible for cost sharing and the minimum life expectancy of those practices.

(11)         District BMP means a BMP designated by a district to reduce the delivery of agricultural NPS pollution and which is reviewed and approved by the Division to be technically adequate prior to funding.

(12)         Encumbered Funds means monies from a district's allocation which have been committed to an applicant after initial approval of the cost share agreement.

(13)         Full Time Equivalent (FTE) means 2,080 hours per annum which equals one full time technical position.

(14)         In‑kind Contribution means a contribution by the applicant towards the implementation of BMPs.  In‑kind contributions shall be approved by the district and can include but not be limited to labor, fuel, machinery use, and supplies and materials necessary for implementing the approved BMPs.

(15)         Landowner means any natural person or other legal entity, including a governmental agency, who holds either an estate of freehold (such as a fee simple absolute or a life estate) or an estate for years or from year to year in land, but does not include an estate at will or by sufferance in land.  Furthermore, a governmental or quasi‑governmental agency such as a drainage district or a soil and water conservation district, or any such agency, by whatever name called, exercising similar powers for similar purposes, can be a landowner for the purposes of these Rules if the governmental agency holds an easement in land.

(16)         Program Year means the period from July 1 through June 30 for which funds are allocated to districts.

(17)         Proper Maintenance means that a practice(s) is being maintained such that the practice(s) is successfully performing the function for which it was originally implemented.

(18)         Soil Loss Tolerance (t) means the maximum allowable annual soil erosion rate to maintain the soil resource base, depending on soil type.

(19)         Strategy Plan means the annual plan for the N.C. Agriculture Cost Share Program for Nonpoint Source Pollution Control to be developed by each district.  The plan identifies pollution treatment needs and the level of cost sharing and technical assistance monies required to address those annual needs in the respective district.

(20)         Technical Representative of the district means a person designated by the district to act on their behalf who participates in the planning, design, implementation and inspection of BMPs.  These practices shall be technically reviewed by the Division.  The district chairman shall certify that the technical representative has properly planned, designed and inspected the BMPs.

(21)         Unencumbered Funds means the portion of the allocation to each district which has not been committed for cost sharing.

 

History Note:        Authority G.S. 106-840; 106-850; 139-3;

Eff. May 1, 1987;

Temporary Amendment Eff. September 23, 1996;

Recodified from 15A NCAC 6E .0002 Eff. December 20, 1996;

Amended Eff. April 1, 1997;

Temporary Amendment Expired June 13, 1997;

Amended Eff. March 1, 2008; July 1, 2004;

Transferred from 15A NCAC 06E .0102 Eff. May 1, 2012.

 

02 NCAC 59D .0103          ALLOCATION GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES

(a)  The Commission shall allocate the cost share funds to the districts in the designated program areas.  To receive fund allocations, each district designated eligible by the Commission shall submit an annual strategy plan to the Commission at the beginning of each fiscal year.  Funds may be allocated to each district for any or all of the following purposes:  cost share payments, cost share incentive payments, technical assistance, or administrative assistance.  Use of funds for technical and administrative assistance must follow the guidelines set forth in Rule .0106 of this Subchapter.

(b)  Funds shall be allocated to the districts at the beginning of the fiscal year and whenever the Commission determines that sufficient funds are available to justify a reallocation.  Districts shall be allocated monies based on the identified level of agriculture-related nonpoint source pollution problems, the respective district's BMP installation goals as demonstrated in the district annual strategy plan, and the district's record of performance to affect BMP installation by cooperating farmers.  The allocation method used for disbursement of funds is based on the relative position of each respective district for those parameters approved by the Commission pursuant to Paragraph (g) of this Rule.  Each district is assigned points for each parameter, and the points are totaled and proportioned to the total dollars available under the current program year funding according to the following formula:

(1)           Sum of Parameter Points                   =              Total Points

(2)           Percentage Total                                                  Total                                                      Dollars Available

Points Each                                           x              Dollars                                   =              to

District                                                                   Available                                               Each District

(3)           The minimum allocated to a particular district shall be twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) per program year, unless the district requests less than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000).

(4)           If a district requests less than the dollars available to that district in Subparagraph (b)(2) of this Rule,  then the excess funds beyond those requested by the district shall be allocated to the districts who did not receive their full requested allocation using the same methodology described in Subparagraph (b)(2) of this Rule.

(c)  95 percent of the total program funding shall be allocated to the district accounts in the initial allocation.  The Division shall retain five percent of the total funding in a contingency fund to be used to respond to an emergency or natural disaster.  If the funds are not needed to respond to an emergency, then the contingency fund shall be allocated at the March meeting of the Commission.

(d)  The Commission may recall funds allocated to a district during a fiscal year that have not been encumbered to an agreement at any time if it determines the recalled funds are needed to respond to an emergency or natural disaster.

(e)  At any time a district may submit a revised strategy plan and apply to the Commission for additional funds.

(f)  CPO's that encumber funds under the current year must be submitted to the Division by 5:00 p.m. on the first Wednesday in June.

(g)  Districts shall be allocated funds based on their respective data for each of the following parameters:

(1)           Percentage of total acres of agricultural land in North Carolina that are in the respective district (including cropland, hayland, pasture land, and orchards/vineyards) as reported in the most recent edition of the North Carolina Agricultural Statistics.  The actual percentage shall be normalized to a 1-100 scale. (20%)

(2)           Percentage of total number of animal units in North Carolina that are in the respective district as reported in the most recent edition of the North Carolina Agricultural Statistics and converted to animal units using the conversion factors approved by the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.  The actual percentage shall be normalized to a 1-100 scale. (20%)

(3)           Relative rank of the number of miles of stream identified as less than fully supporting due to agricultural nonpoint source pollution as reported in the state's 303(d) list, 305(b) report, and basin plan. (20%)

(4)           Relative rank of the percentage of the county draining to waters classified as Primary Nursery Areas, Outstanding Resource Waters, High Quality Waters, Trout, Shellfishing, and Critical Water Supply on the current schedule of Water Quality Standards and Classifications. (10%)

(5)           The percentage of cost share funds allocated to a district that are encumbered to contracts in the best three of the most recent four completed program years as reported on the NC Agriculture Cost Share Program Database. (10%)

(6)           Percentage of program funds encumbered to contracts that are actually expended for installed BMPs in the best three of the most recent four-year period for which the allowed time for implementing contracted BMPs has expired as reported on the NC Agriculture Cost Share Program Database. (10%)

(7)           Relative rank of the average erosion rate for agricultural land in the county as reported in the National Resources Inventory, unless the State Conservationist of the Natural Resources Conservation Service specifies that another information source would be more current and accurate. (10%)

 

History Note:        Authority G.S. 106-840; 106-850; 139-4; 139-8;

Eff. May 1, 1987;

Recodified from 15A NCAC 06E .0003 Eff. December 20, 1996;

Amended Eff. April 1, 1997;

Temporary Amendment Eff. May 1, 2001;

Amended Eff. September 1, 2005; August 1, 2002;

Transferred from 15A NCAC 06E .0103 Eff. May 1, 2012.

 

02 NCAC 59D .0104          BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES ELIGIBLE FOR COST SHARE PAYMENTS

(a)  BMP's eligible for cost sharing will be restricted to those BMP's listed in the Detailed Implementation Plan approved by the commission for the current program year.  BMP's shall meet the following criteria to be listed in the Detailed Implementation Plan:

(1)           All eligible BMP's must be designed to reduce the input of agricultural nonpoint source pollution into the water courses of the state or as otherwise authorized by statute.

(2)           Information establishing the average cost of the specified BMP must be available.  District BMP's may use actual costs as indicated by receipts, if average costs are not available.

(3)           Eligible BMP's shall have adequate technical specifications as set forth in Paragraph (b) of this Rule.

(b)  BMP definitions and specifications are set forth periodically in the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service Technical Guide, Section IV, Raleigh, North Carolina or by the division for district BMP's.  BMP specifications appropriate for the current program year shall be met or exceeded in order for an applicant to qualify for cost sharing.  Provisions for exceeding BMP design specifications by an applicant may be considered at the time of application with the district.  The applicant shall assume responsibility for all costs associated with exceeding BMP design specifications.

(c)  The minimum life expectancy of the BMP's shall be listed in the Detailed Implementation Plan.  Practices designated by a district shall meet the life expectancy requirement established by the division for that district BMP.

 

History Note:        Authority G.S. 106-850; 139‑8;

Eff. May 1, 1987;

Recodified from 15A NCAC 6E .0004 Eff. December 20, 1996;

Amended Eff. January 1, 1998;

Transferred from 15A NCAC 06E .0104 Eff. May 1, 2012.

 

02 NCAC 59D .0105          COST SHARE AND INCENTIVE PAYMENTS

(a)  Cost share and incentive payments may be made through Cost Share Agreements between the district and the applicant.

(b)  For all practices except those eligible for CSI, the state shall provide a percentage of the average cost for BMP installation not to exceed the maximum cost share percentages shown in subdivisions (6), (8), and (9) of G.S. 143-215.74(b), and the applicant shall contribute the remainder of the cost.  In‑kind contributions by the applicant shall be included in the applicants' cost share contribution.  In‑kind contributions shall be specified in the agreement for cost sharing and shall be approved by the district.

(c)  CSI payments shall be limited to a maximum of three years per farm.

(d)  Average installation costs for each comparative area or region of the state and the amount of cost share incentive payments shall be updated and revised at least triennially by the Division for approval by the Commission.

(e)  The total annual cost share payments to an applicant shall not exceed the maximum funding authorized in subdivisions (6) and (9) of G.S. 143-215.74(b).

(f)  Cost share payments to implement BMPs under this program may be combined with other funding programs, as long as the combined cost share rate does not exceed the amount and percentages set forth in Paragraphs (b) and (e) of this Rule.  For special funding programs where the applicant relinquishes all production capability on his or her agricultural land for at least 10 years, combined funding may equal up to 100 percent.  Agriculture Cost Share Program funding shall not exceed the maximum cost share percentages shown in subdivisions (6), (8), and (9) of G.S. 143-215.74(b).

(g)  Use of cost share payments is restricted to land located within the county approved for funding by the Commission.  However, in the situation where an applicant's farm is not located solely within a county, the entire farm, if contiguous, shall be eligible for cost share payments.

(h)  Cost share contracts used on or for local, state or federal government land must be approved by the Commission in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest and to ensure that such contracts are consistent with the purposes of this program.

(i)  The district Board of Supervisors may approve Cost Share Agreements with cost share percentages or amounts less than the maximum allowable in subdivisions (6), (8), and (9) of G.S. 143-215.74(b) if:

(1)           The Commission allocates insufficient cost share BMP funding to the district to enable it to award funding to all applicants;

(2)           The district establishes other criteria in its annual strategy plan for cost sharing percentages or amounts less than those allowable in subdivisions (6), (8), and (9) of G.S. 143-215.74(b).

(j)  For purposes of determining eligible payments under practice-specific caps described in the detailed implementation plan, the district board shall consider all entities with which the applicant is associated, including those in other counties, as the same applicant.

 

History Note:        Authority G.S. 106-840; 106-850; 139‑4; 139‑8;

Eff. May 1, 1987;

Temporary Amendment Eff. September 23, 1996;

Recodified form 15A NCAC 06E .0005 Eff. December 20, 1996;

Temporary Amendment Expired June 13, 1997;

Amended Eff. March 1, 2008; July 1, 2004; April 1, 1999; January 1, 1998;

Transferred from 15A NCAC 06E .0105 Eff. May 1, 2012.

 

02 NCAC 59D .0106          TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FUNDS

(a)  The funds available for technical assistance shall be allocated by the commission based on the recommendation of the division and the needs as expressed by the district and needs to accelerate the installation of BMP's in the respective district.  Each district may use these monies to fund new positions or to accelerate present technical assistance positions.  Districts must provide an itemized budget to the division in order to qualify for technical assistance funds.  Matching funds for district technical assistance shall be approved by the commission prior to any expenditure of funds.  Budget revisions submitted by the districts may be approved by the NPS Section based on Paragraph (b) of this Rule.  N. C. Agriculture Cost Share technical assistance funds may be used for each FTE technical position with the district matching at least 50 percent of the total.  Priorities for funding positions shall be assigned based as follows:

(1)           Subject to availability of funds and local match, provide support for one FTE technical position for every district.

(2)           Subject to availability of funds and local match, provide support for one additional FTE technical position if the position is needed to further support program implementation.  Priority for funding positions beyond one FTE per district shall be based on the following parameters:

(A)          Whether the position is presently funded by program technical assistance funds.

(B)          The number of program dollars encumbered to contracts in the highest three of the previous four completed program years, and

(C)          The number of program dollars actually expended for installed BMPs in the highest three years of the most recent four-year period for which the allowed time for implementing contracted BMPs has expired as reported on the NC Agriculture Cost Share Database.

(3)           Subject to availability of funds and local match, provide support for additional FTE technical position if the position is needed to further accelerate treatment of identified critical nonpoint source pollution problem(s).

(b)  Technical assistance funds may be used for salary, benefits, social security, field equipment and supplies, office rent, office equipment and supplies, postage, telephone service, travel and mileage.  A maximum of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) per year for each FTE technical position is allowed for mileage charges.

(c)  Technical assistance funds may not be used to fund technical assistance positions which do not meet the following minimum requirements:

(1)           associated degree in engineering, agriculture, forestry or related field; or

(2)           high school diploma with two years experience in the fields listed in Rule .0106(c)(1), of this Subchapter.

(d)  Cost shared positions must be used to accelerate the program activities in the district.  A district technician cost shared with program funds may work on other activities as delegated by the field office supervisor but the total hours charged to the program by field office personnel must equal or exceed those hours funded through the program.  Also, these hours must be in addition to those hours normally spent in BMP planning and installation by district personnel.

(e)  District technicians may be jointly funded by more than one district to accelerate the program in each participating district.  Each district must be eligible for cost sharing in the program.  Requests for funding (salary, FICA, insurance, etc.) of a shared position must be presented to the division by all concerned districts and the division shall cost share to the billing district at a 50-50 rate based on the portion of the FTE provided each respective district.  A shared position must be officially housed in one specific district and cost share for support items (office rent, telephone, etc.) shall be paid to one district only.

(f)  Funds, if available, shall be allocated to each participating district to provide for administrative costs under this program. These funds shall be used for clerical assistance and other related program administrative costs and shall be matched with in-kind funds of an equal amount from the district.

 

History Note:        Authority G.S. 106-840; 106-850; 139‑4; 139‑8;

Eff. May 1, 1987;

Amended Eff. July 1, 1992;

Recodified from 15A NCAC 6E .0006 Eff. December 20, 1996;

Amended Eff. August 1, 2005; November 1, 1997;

Transferred from 15A NCAC 06E .0106 Eff. May 1, 2012.

 

02 NCAC 59D .0107          COST SHARE AGREEMENT

(a)  The landowner shall be required to sign the agreement for all practices other than agronomic practices and land application of animal wastes.  An applicant who is not the landowner may submit a long term written lease or other legal document, indicating control over the land in lieu of the landowner's signature, provided the control runs the life of the practice as listed in the respective Program Year's Implementation Plan.  Signature on the agreement constitutes responsibility for BMP maintenance and continuation.

(b)  As a condition for receiving cost share or cost share incentive payments for implementing BMP's, the applicant shall agree to continue and maintain those practices for the minimum life as set forth in the Detailed Implementation Plan, effective the date the BMP's are implemented.

(c)  As a condition for receiving cost share payments, the applicant shall agree to submit a soil test sample for analysis and follow the fertilizer application recommendations as close as reasonably and practically possible.  Soil testing shall be required a minimum of every two years on all cropland affected by cost share payments.  Failure to soil test shall not constitute noncompliance with the cost share agreement.

(d)  As a condition for receiving cost share payments for waste management systems, the applicant shall agree to have the waste material analyzed once every year to determine its nutrient content.  If the waste is land applied, the applicant shall agree to soil test the area of application and to apply the waste as close as reasonably and practically possible to recommended rates.  When waste is land applied, waste analysis and soil testing shall be conducted annually.

(e)  The technical representative of the district shall determine if the practice(s) implemented have been installed according to specifications as defined for the respective program year in the USDA‑Natural Resources Conservation Service Technical Guide, Section IV, Raleigh, North Carolina, according to other specifications approved by the Commission pursuant to 02 NCAC 59G .0103, or according to specifications approved by the Division for district BMP's based on  the criteria established in 02 NCAC 59G .0103(c).  The district shall be responsible for making an annual spot check of five percent of all the cost share agreements to ensure proper maintenance.  Waste management systems shall be included as part of the annual five percent check except for systems on farms without certified waste management plans.  In those cases, the districts shall conduct annual status reviews for five years following implementation.

(f)  If the technical representative of the district determines that a BMP for which program funds were received has been destroyed or has not been properly maintained, the applicant will be notified that the BMP must be repaired or re-implemented within 30 working days.  For vegetative practices, applicants are given one calendar year to re-establish the vegetation.  The district may grant a prescribed extension period if it determines compliance can not be met due to circumstances beyond the applicants control.

(g)  If the practices are not repaired or reimplemented within the specified time, the applicant shall be required to repay to the Division a prorated refund for cost share BMP's as shown in Table 1 and 100 percent of the cost share incentive payments received.

                                                                                                 Table 1

                                                PRORATED REFUND SCHEDULE FOR NONCOMPLIANCE

                                                                            OF COST SHARE PAYMENTS

 

                       Percent Age of Practice Life                                                           Percent Refund

                                                  0                                                                                           100

                                               10                                                                                             95

                                               20                                                                                             89

                                               30                                                                                             82

                                               40                                                                                             74

                                               50                                                                                             65

                                               60                                                                                             55

                                               70                                                                                             44

                                               80                                                                                             31

                                               90                                                                                             17

                                             100                                                                                                0

(h)  An applicant, who has been found in noncompliance and who does not agree to repair or reimplement the cost shared practices, and a District may jointly request the commission to informally mediate the case.  To invoke this method of mediation, both parties must stipulate that the commission mediation is binding.

(i)  An applicant shall have 180 days to make repayment to the Division following the final appeals process.

(j)  The inability to properly maintain cost shared practices or the destruction of such practices through no fault of the applicant shall not be considered as noncompliance with the cost share agreement.

(k)  When land under cost share agreement changes owners the new landowner shall be strongly encouraged by the district to accept the remaining maintenance obligation.  If the new landowner does not accept the maintenance requirements in writing, then the original applicant shall be required to refund 100 percent of all CSI payments and a prorated portion of cost share payments in accordance with Table 1 in Paragraph (g) of this Rule.

 

History Note:        Authority G.S. 106-850; 139-4; 139‑8;

Eff. May 1, 1987;

Amended Eff. July 1, 1992;

Recodified from 15A NCAC 6E .0007 Eff. December 20, 1996;

Amended Eff. June 1, 2008; April 1, 1999; November 1, 1997;

Transferred from 15A NCAC 06E .0107 Eff. May 1, 2012.

 

02 NCAC 59D .0108          DISTRICT PROGRAM OPERATION

(a)  As a component of the annual strategy plan, the district shall prioritize both cropland and animal operations according to pollution potential.  The district shall target technical and financial assistance to facilitate BMP implementation on the identified critical areas.

(b)  Priority by the district may be given to implementing systems of BMP's which provide the most cost effective reduction of nonpoint source pollution.

(c)  All applicants shall apply to the district and complete the necessary forms in order to receive cost share payments.

(d)  The district shall review each application and the feasibility of each application.  The district shall review and approve the evaluation and assign priority for cost sharing.  All applicants shall be informed of cost share approval or denial.

(e)  Upon approval of the application by the district, the applicant and the district shall enter into a cost share agreement.  The cost share agreement shall list the practices to be cost shared with state funds.  The agreement shall also include the average cost of the recommended practice(s), cost incentive payment of the practice(s), and the expected implementation date of the practice(s).  The District shall develop CPO's, which shall become a part of the cost share agreement.

(f)  Upon completion of practice(s) implementation, the technical representative of the district shall notify the district of compliance with design specifications.

(g)  Upon notification, the district shall review the CPO.  Upon approval, the district shall certify the practices in the CPO and notify the Division to make payment to the applicant.

(h)  Upon receipt of a quarterly statement from the district, the Division shall reimburse to the district the appropriate amount for technical and clerical assistance.

(i)  The district shall be responsible for and approve all BMP inspections as set forth in Rule .0107(e) of this Section to insure proper maintenance and continuation under the cost share agreement.

(j)  The district shall keep appropriate records dealing with the program.

 

History Note:        Authority G.S. 106-840; 106-850; 139‑4; 139‑8;

Eff. May 1, 1987;

Recodified from 15A NCAC 6E .0008 Eff. December 20, 1996;

Amended Eff. March 1, 2008; November 1, 1997;

Transferred from 15A NCAC 06E .0108 Eff. May 1, 2012.