[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 230 (Friday, November 29, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 71561-71562]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-28520]


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Notices
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
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Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 230 / Friday, November 29, 2013 / 
Notices

[[Page 71561]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Commodity Credit Corporation

Farm Service Agency


Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Programmatic 
Environmental Impact Statement for the Conservation Reserve Program

AGENCY: Commodity Credit Corporation and Farm Service Agency, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of Intent (NOI); request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This notice announces that the Farm Service Agency (FSA), on 
behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), intends to complete a 
Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (SPEIS) 
assessing the environmental impacts of potential changes to the 
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), as required by the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The intent of this notice is 
to provide an initial summary introduction to the alternatives being 
considered for potential changes to CRP, and to request comments on 
these proposed alternatives. The input we receive as a result of this 
notice will enable us to refine the alternatives, begin to evaluate 
their impacts, and document results in the scoping report as required 
by NEPA.

DATES: We will consider comments that we receive by January 13, 2014. 
Comments received after this date will be considered to the extent 
possible.

ADDRESSES: We invite you to submit comments on this NOI. In your 
comments, include the volume, date, and page number of this issue of 
the Federal Register. You may submit comments by any of the following 
methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments;
     Online: Go to www.CRPSPEIS.com. Follow the online 
instructions for submitting comments;
     Email: CRPcomments@cardnotec.com.
     Fax: (757) 594-1469.
     Mail, Hand Delivery, or Courier: CRP SPEIS, c/o Cardno 
TEC, Inc., 11817 Canon Blvd., Suite 300, Newport News, VA 23606.
    All written comments will be available for inspection online at 
www.regulations.gov and in the Office of the Director, Conservation and 
Environmental Programs Division, FSA, USDA, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., 
Room 4709 South Building, Washington, DC 20250, during business hours 
between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except 
holidays. A copy of this notice is available through the FSA home page 
at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For questions, contact Nell Fuller, 
National Environmental Compliance Manager, telephone: (202) 720-6303. 
For the documents discussed in this notice, go to 
www.CRPSPEIS.com.Persons with disabilities who require alternative 
means for communication (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should 
contact the USDA Target Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: As required by NEPA regulations (40 CFR 
1500-1508), FSA is assessing potential changes to CRP in 2014 by 
preparing a SPEIS (2014 CRP SPEIS), to provide FSA decisionmakers, 
other agencies, Tribes, and the public with an analysis that evaluates 
program effects in appropriate contexts, describes the intensity of 
adverse as well as beneficial impacts, and addresses cumulative 
environmental impacts associated with proposed programmatic changes to 
CRP. CRP was first authorized in the Food Security Act of 1985, Public 
Law 99-198, 99 Stat. 1509-1514 (16 U.S.C. 3831-3836), and is governed 
by regulations in 7 CFR part 1410. CRP is a voluntary program that 
supports the implementation of long-term conservation measures designed 
to improve the quality of ground and surface waters, control soil 
erosion, and enhance wildlife habitat on environmentally sensitive 
agricultural land. In return, CCC provides participants with rental 
payments and cost share assistance under contracts that extend from 10 
to 15 years. CRP is a CCC program administered by FSA with the support 
of other Federal, State, and local agencies and organizations. More 
information on CRP is available at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSAwebapp?area=home&/subject=copr&/topic=crp.
    Over the last decade, FSA has completed extensive NEPA analysis 
pertaining to CRP and components of the program. The 2014 CRP SPEIS 
will tier to (that is, it will focus on analyzing the new changes and 
incorporate and augment the prior analyses) and incorporate by 
reference other applicable NEPA documentation, as appropriate, and 
supplement the 2010 CRP SEIS. As such, only those proposed changes to 
CRP that have not been adequately addressed in other NEPA documentation 
will be addressed in the 2014 CRP SPEIS. Other applicable NEPA 
documentation can be found at www.CRPSPEIS.com and includes:
     The 2003 CRP Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and 
resulting Record of Decision (ROD), which evaluated the environmental 
consequences of changes to CRP under the Farm Security and Rural 
Investment Act of 2002, Public Law 107-171 (which is commonly known as 
the 2002 Farm Bill).
     The 2008 13 state-level CRP Environmental Assessments 
(EAs) and resulting Findings of No Significant Impacts (FONSI), which 
analyzed the environmental impacts of managed haying and grazing 
variations on CRP contracts.
     The 2008 CRP Programmatic EA (PEA) and FONSI, which 
evaluated mandatory changes to CRP reauthorized by the Food, 
Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, Public Law 10-246 (2008 Farm 
Bill).
     The 2010 CRP SEIS and ROD, which evaluated changes to CRP 
enacted by the 2008 Farm Bill and supplemented the 2003 CRP EIS.
     The 2012 CRP PEA and FONSI, which evaluated the 
environmental consequences associated with authorizing emergency haying 
and grazing of CRP conservation practices (CPs) that had previously 
been ineligible, and helped alleviate local impacts to farmers and 
ranchers as a result of extreme drought and high temperatures during 
2012.
    Building on that NEPA documentation, the 2014 CRP SPEIS

[[Page 71562]]

will help FSA review potential alternatives to, and environmental 
impacts expected to result from, proposed changes to CRP. The results 
of the 2014 CRP SPEIS and subsequent ROD will be used in implementing 
and modifying CRP administration and will also serve as guidance to FSA 
decision-makers when considering proposed CRP changes.
    The SPEIS process provides a means for the public, other agencies, 
and Tribes to provide input on program implementation alternatives and 
their impacts, and other environmental concerns. We encourage you to 
participate in helping to define the scope of the draft 2014 CRP SPEIS.

Summary Description of Preliminary Alternatives

    To initiate the process, FSA has developed a set of preliminary 
alternatives to be studied and impacts to be analyzed in the draft 2014 
CRP SPEIS. At this time, FSA is proposing three alternatives (the No 
Action alternative and two action alternatives). The No Action 
alternative (continuation of CRP as it is currently administered and 
analyzed in the 2010 CRP SEIS) will be evaluated as required by the 
Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations (40 CFR parts 1500-
1508).
    FSA expects legislative changes to CRP in the next Farm Bill (or 
other relevant legislation). Although the timing of the next 
legislative change to CRP is uncertain, to be able to implement the 
changes expeditiously, FSA is getting a start on the analysis of 
potential changes by including potential legislative changes in the 
alternatives. As a starting point for the required NEPA analysis that 
will be required before FSA can implement regulatory changes when the 
Farm Bill is enacted, FSA determined that using the proposals most 
recently passed by the House and the Senate, respectively, was 
reasonable. Because those proposals may change, it did not seem prudent 
to detail those proposed changes in this notice; the alternatives will 
be revised as needed in response to legislation and public and other 
input. To see the details that FSA is working from, refer to 
www.CRPSPEIS.com for the text of the House and Senate proposals used as 
our starting point. At this point, the two separate CRP proposals, 
however they are eventually modified, will be the foundation for our 
proposed federal actions, and are therefore included as separate 
alternatives. They are similar, but have some differences, and as 
discussed below, are not the sole components of the action 
alternatives.
    When the next Farm Bill is enacted (or any other legislative change 
to CRP), the resulting legislative changes to CRP will be used along 
with the public and other input to this NOI to fully articulate the 
alternatives and their impacts, which will be fully described in the 
resulting scoping report.
    FSA has developed the two action alternatives that include the 
provisions from each of the respective proposed legislative changes to 
CRP, as well as the following discretionary considerations, to ensure 
that the 2014 CRP SPEIS captures the full range of potential 
alternatives, impacts, and issues anticipated: Administrative, 
staffing, and budgetary considerations; efficiency and jurisdiction 
concerns; and other factors. The alternatives and impacts will be 
amended, as appropriate, based on input from the public, other 
agencies, and Tribes during the scoping process, as well as by any 
legislative changes to CRP.
    Both of the two action alternatives include a gradual reduction of 
the CRP enrollment cap by 20 to 25 percent over the next 5 years. In 
the 2014 CRP SPEIS, FSA will analyze discretionary measures to meet the 
proposed mandatory reduction in enrollment while maintaining the 
maximum environmental benefit realized from the program.
    Other discretionary provisions, which FSA identified separately 
from any pending legislative changes, to be addressed in the 2014 CRP 
SPEIS include:
     Changing the enrollment cap on the Farmable Wetlands 
Program;
     Reducing incentive and cost-share payments for tree 
thinning activities;
     Evaluating other forms or processes for enrollment under 
continuous sign-up;
     Adding flexibility for haying and grazing, including 
emergency haying and grazing on otherwise ineligible CRP CPs (as 
addressed in the 2012 CRP PEA and FONSI); and
     Providing transition options for expiring contracts to 
enroll in other conservation programs.

    Signed on November 21, 2013.
Candace Thompson,
Acting Executive Vice President, Commodity Credit Corporation, and 
Acting Administrator, Farm Service Agency.
[FR Doc. 2013-28520 Filed 11-27-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-05-P