A Brief History • In 1933, NRCS (then the Soil Erosion Service), started working with farmers to reduce erosion and conserve soil • 1935 – Soil Conservation Act • 1937 – establishment of first Conservation District • 1985 -- The Food Security Act of 1985 linked farmers' eligibility for USDA programs to compliance with highly erodible land conservation (HELC) and wetland conservation (WC) provisions
The Federal Crop Insurance Reform and Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of October 14, 1994and subsequent changes • With the 1994 Reorg Act (P.Law 103-354, 7 U.S.C. 6932 (FSA); 7 U.S.C. 6962; and NAD 7 U.S.C. 6991, the law provided that (at 7 U.S.C. 6932(d)), Jurisdiction (1) In general, "Until such time as an adverse decision … is referred to the National Appeals Division (NAD) for consideration, the [Consolidated] Farm Service Agency (FSA) shall have initial jurisdiction over any administrative appeal resulting from an adverse decision made under Title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3801 et seq.), including an adverse decision involving technical determinations made by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)."
Further at 7 U.S.C. 6932(d)(2)(A), the law states, that "In general, with respect to administrative appeal involving a technical determination made by the NRCS, the FSA, by rule with the concurrence of NRCS, shall establish procedures for obtaining review by the NRCS of the technical determination involved."
What does this mean? • Prior to 1994, the only decisions or determinations made by NRCS that were subject to appeal were those related to HELC/WC. • Per the 1994 ReOrg act, all determinations or decision issued by NRCS would be reviewed by FSA when final, and prior to being reviewed by NAD.
What does this mean? • The 1994 ReOrg actmoved many of the financial assistance programs to NRCS. (Previously, most financial assistance programs had been administered by predecessors to the Farm Service Agency). • In addition, NRCS was delegated administration of -- • The Environmental Quality Incentives Program -- 1996 Farm Bill • Conservation Security Program – 2002 Farm Bill
So? • Now, all conservation programs except CRP and ECP are administered by NRCS. Thus, although NRCS now makes both types of adverse decisions for these Title XII programs, the law still provides that "until such time....appeals will be the jurisdiction of FSA“. • This means that NRCS must provide the option of appealing through FSA. Since most farmers and ranchers have an established relationship with FSA, they often choose that option. • Once the participant chooses FSA, the appeal by virtue of the regulatory language then becomes an FSA decision, not an NRCS decision.
Ergo… • The ReOrg Act hasn't changed with the changes in program administration. Therefore, there is a more convoluted appeals procedure than Congress actually intended when the law establishing NAD was enacted.