|§1940.305 Policy implementation.
(a) Environmental impact analysis. The implementation of the environmental impact analysis requirements described in this subpart serves as the primary mechanism for FmHA as follows:
(1) incorporating environmental quality considerations into FmHA program and decision-making processes,
(2) obtaining the views of the public and government agencies on potential environmental impacts associated with FmHA projects, and
(3) using all practicable means to avoid or to minimize any possible adverse environmental effects of FmHA actions.
(b) Natural resource management. The State Director will develop a natural resource management guide. This guide will serve as an essential mechanism for implementing §1940.304 of this subpart; and, therefore, the guide must be consistent with and reflect the objectives and policies contained in §1940.304 of this subpart. At the same time, however, it must be tailored to take into account important State, regional, and local natural resource management objectives. The guide will be issued as a State Supplement for prior approval. The basic content, purposes, and uses of the guide are enumerated in Exhibit B of this subpart and can be summarized as follows:
(1) The guide will serve as a mechanism for assembling an inventory of the locations within the State of those natural resources, land uses, and environmental factors that have been specified by Federal, State and local authorities as deserving some degree of protection or special consideration;
(2) The guide will summarize the various standards or types of Federal, State, or local protection that apply to the natural resources, land uses, and environmental factors listed in the inventory; and
(3) Applications for individual projects must be reviewed for consistency with the guide.
(c) Intergovernmental initiatives. When commenting on proposed Federal actions subject to environmental impact statements, FmHA commentors will focus on the consistency of these actions with the appropriate State natural resource management guide. A similar focus or element will be addressed in FmHA's review of the Environmental Protection Agency's 201 Wastewater Management Plans.
(d) Farmland Protection Policy Act and Departmental Regulation 9500-3, Land Use Policy. The natural resource management guide serves as a tool for implementing the requirements of the Act and the Departmental Regulation at the broad level of implementing the Agency's programs at the State level. These requirements must also be followed in the review of applications for financial assistance or subdivision approval, as well as the disposal of real property. FmHA's implementation procedures for the project review process are contained in Exhibit C of this subpart.
(e) Endangered Species. FmHA will implement the consultation procedures required under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act as specified in 50 CFR 402. It is important to note that these consultation procedures apply to the disposal of real property and all FmHA applications for financial assistance and subdivision approval, including those applicants which are exempt from environmental assessments. FmHA's implementation procedures are contained in Exhibit D of this subpart.
(f) Wild and scenic rivers. Each application for financial assistance or subdivision approval and the proposed disposal of real property will be reviewed to determine if it will affect a river or portion of it, which is either included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, designated for potential addition to the system, or identified in the Nationwide Inventory prepared by the National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI). FmHA's procedures for completing this review are contained in Exhibit E of this subpart.
(g) Historic and cultural properties.
(1) As part of the environmental review process, FmHA will identify any properties that are listed in or may be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, and located within the area of potential environmental impact. Identification will consist of consulting the published lists of the National Register and formally contacting and seeking the comments of the appropriate State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). Since it is not always possible from the consultation with the SHPO to determine whether historic and cultural properties are present within the project's area of environmental impact, it may be necessary for FmHA to consult public records and other individuals and organizations, such as university archaeologists, local historical societies, etc. These latter discussions should take place before initiating a detailed site survey since they may provide reliable information that obviates the need for a survey. However, whenever insufficient information exists to document the presence or absence of potentially eligible National Register properties and where the potential for previously unidentified properties is recognized by FmHA, the SHPO, or other interested parties, FmHA will conduct the necessary investigations to determine if such properties are present within the area of potential environmental impact. FmHA will involve the SHPO in the planning and formulation of any historic, cultural, architectural or archaeological testing, studies or surveys conducted to investigate the presence of such properties and will utilize persons with appropriate knowledge and experience.
(2) If the information obtained, as a result of the consultation and investigations conducted by FmHA, indicates the presence of an historic or cultural property within the area of potential environmental impact that, in the opinion of the SHPO and FmHA, appear to meet the National Register Criteria (36 CFR 60.4), the property will be considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. If the SHPO and FmHA do not agree on the property's eligibility for the National Register or if the Secretary of the Interior or the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation so requests, FmHA will request a determination of eligibility from the Keeper of the National Register in accordance with 36 CFR 63. Consultations will be initiated with the SHPO and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in accordance with 36 CFR 800, through the implementation of Subpart F of Part 1901 of this chapter, to determine the most appropriate course of action to protect all National Register and eligible properties within the area of potential environmental impact.
(3) Further instructions detailing the procedures to be followed in considering and protecting historic and cultural properties and the responsible Agency officials are contained in Subpart F of Part 1901 of this Chapter. These procedures will be followed whenever a proposal, considered by FmHA, has the potential to affect National Register or eligible properties.
(h) Coastal barriers. In those States having coastal barriers within the Coastal Barrier Resources System, each application for financial assistance or subdivision approval, as well as the proposed disposal of real property, will be reviewed to determine if it would be located within the system, and, if so, whether the action must be denied on this basis or meets the Act's criteria for an exception. To accomplish the review, all affected State, District and County Offices will maintain a current set of maps, as issued by DOI, which depict those coastal barriers within their jurisdiction that have been included in the system. FmHA's implementation procedures for accomplishing this review requirement and for consulting as necessary with DOI are contained in Exhibit F of this subpart. The exceptions to the restrictions of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act are contained in Exhibit L of this subpart.
(i) Water and energy conservation. Water and energy conservation measures will be considered at both the program and project level in a manner consistent with program regulations.
(j) Noise abatement. For purposes of assessing noise impacts and for determining the acceptability of housing sites in terms of their exposure to noise, FmHA has adopted and follows the standards and procedures developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and contained in 24 CFR 51 of Subpart B entitled, "Noise Abatement and Control."
(k) Water quality. Each application for financial assistance or subdivision approval and the proposed disposal of real property will be reviewed to determine if it would impair a State water quality standard or meet antidegradation requirements. When necessary, the proposed activity will be modified to protect water quality standards, including designated and/or existing beneficial uses that water quality criteria are designed to protect, and meet antidegradation requirements.
§1940.306 Environmental responsibilities within the National Office.
(a) Administrator. The Administrator of FmHA has the direct responsibility for Agency compliance with all environmental laws, Executive orders, and regulations that apply to FmHA's program and administrative actions. As such, the Administrator ensures that this responsibility is adequately delegated to Agency staff and remains informed on the general status of Agency compliance, as well as the need for any necessary improvements. The Administrator is also responsible for ensuring that the Agency's manpower and financial needs for accomplishing adequate compliance with this subpart are reflected and documented in budget requests for departmental consideration.
(b) Deputy Administrator Program Operations.
(1) The Deputy Administrator for Program Operations has the delegated overall Agency responsibility for developing and implementing environmental policies and compliance procedures, monitoring their effectiveness, and advising the Administrator on the status of compliance, to include recommendations for any necessary changes in this subpart. The incumbent is also responsible for developing and documenting, as part of the Agency's budget formulation process, the manpower and financial needs necessary to implement this subpart.
(2) The specific responsibilities of the Deputy Administrator Program Operations are as follows:
(i) Provide for the Agency an interdisciplinary approach to environmental impact analysis and problem resolution, as required by the CEQ regulations;
(ii) Provide the leadership and technical expertise for the implementation of the Agency's environmental policies with special emphasis being placed on those policies relating to natural resource management, energy conservation, and orderly community development;
(iii) Coordinate the implementation of this subpart with affected program offices;
(iv) Provide policy direction and advice on the implementation of this subpart to Agency staff, particularly to SECs and technical support personnel within State Offices;
(v) Consult and coordinate, as needed or upon request, with the Department's interagency committees dealing with environmental, land use, and historic preservation matters;
(vi) Monitor the Agency's record in complying with this subpart;
(vii) Provide training programs and materials for the Agency staff assigned the functions identified in this subpart;
(viii) Review, as necessary, applications for funding assistance, proposed policies and regulations, and recommend their approval, disapproval, or modification after analyzing and considering their anticipated adverse environmental impacts, their benefits, and their consistency with the requirements of this subpart;
(ix) Develop and direct Agency procedures for complying with environmental legislation, Executive orders, and regulations, including, but not limited to, those listed in §1940.301(c) of this subpart;
(x) Maintain a position identified as the Senior Environmental Specialist (hereafter called the Environmental Specialist), who will serve as the responsible Agency official under the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act, maintain liaison on environmental matters with interested public groups and Federal agencies, and serve as the focal point for developing and coordinating the Agency's procedures for the requirements listed in §1940.301(c) of this subpart; and
(xi) Review and evaluate legislative and administrative proposals in terms of their environmental impact.
(c) Assistant Administrators for Programs. The Assistant Administrators for Programs will:
(1) Ensure, as necessary, that environmental assessments and EISs for proposed program regulations are prepared by their staff;
(2) Ensure that all proposed actions that fall under the requirements of this subpart, and that are submitted to the National Office for approval or concurrence, contain adequate analyses and documentation of their potential environmental impacts (Transfer of program funds from National Office to State Office control to enable the State Office to approve an application is not considered to be National Office approval of or concurrence in an application);
(3) Consider and include, in the development of program regulations, feasible policies and mechanisms that promote program goals in a manner that either enhances environmental quality or reduces unnecessary adverse environmental impacts; and
(4) Designate one or more staff members to serve as a program environmental coordinator, having generally the same duties and responsibilities within the program office as the SEC bas within the State Office (See §1940.307(b) of this subpart).
§1940.307 Environmental responsibilities within the State Office.
(a) State Director. The State Director will:
(1) Serve as the responsible FmHA official at the State Office level for ensuring compliance with the requirements of this Subpart; and
(2) Appoint one individual to serve as the SEC. Thereafter, the SEC will report directly to the State Director on the environmental matters contained in this Subpart.
(b) State Environmental Coordinator (SEC). The SEC will:
(1) Act as advisor to the State Director on environmental matters and coordinate the requirements of this subpart;
(2) Review those Agency actions which are not categorically excluded from this subpart (see §1940.311 and §1940.312 of this subpart) and which require the approval and/or clearance of the State Office and recommend to the approving official either project approval, disapproval, or modification after analyzing and considering the
(i) anticipated adverse environmental impacts,
(ii) the anticipated benefits, and
(iii) the action's consistency with this subpart's requirements;
(3) Represent the State Director at conferences and meetings dealing with environmental matters of a State Office nature;
(4) Maintain liaison on State Office environmental matters with interested public groups and local, State, and other Federal agencies;
(5) Serve as the State Director's alternate on State-level USDA committees dealing with environmental, land use and historic preservation matters;
(6) Solicit, whenever necessary, the expert advice and assistance of other professional staff members within the State Office in order to adequately implement this subpart;
(7) Provide technical assistance as needed on a project-by-project basis to State, District, and County Office staffs;
(8) Develop controls for avoiding or mitigating adverse environmental impacts and monitor their implementation;
(9) Provide assistance in resolving post-approval environmental matters at the State Office level;
(10) Maintain records for those actions required by this subpart;
(11) Coordinate for the State Director the development of the State Office natural resource management guide;
(12) Provide direction and training to State, District, and County Office staffs on the requirements of this subpart; and
(13) Coordinate for the State Director the monitoring of the State Office's compliance with this subpart and keep the State Director advised of the results of the monitoring process.
(c) Program Chiefs. State Office Program Chiefs will:
(1) Be responsible for the adequacy of the environmental impact reviews required by this subpart for all program actions to be approved at the State Office level or concurred in at that level;
(2) Coordinate the above reviews as early as possible with the SEC, so that the latter can assist in addressing the resolution of any unresolved or difficult environmental issues in a timely manner; and
(3) Incorporate into projects and actions measures to avoid or reduce potential adverse environmental impacts identified in environmental reviews.
§1940.308 Environmental responsibilities at the District and County Office levels.
(a) The District Director will be responsible for carrying out the actions required by this subpart to be completed at the District Office level.
(b) The County Supervisor will be responsible for carrying out the actions required by this subpart to be completed at the County Office level.
(c) In discussing FmHA assistance programs with potential applicants, District Directors and County Supervisors will inform them of the Agency's environmental requirements, as well as the environmental information needs and responsibilities that FmHA applicants are expected to address. (See §1940.309 of this subpart.)
§1940.309 Responsibilities of the prospective applicant.
(a) FmHA expects applicants and transferees (and in the case of the loan guarantee programs, borrowers and transferees) to consider the potential environmental impacts of their requests at the earliest planning stages and to develop proposals that minimize the potential to adversely impact the environment. Prospective applicants should contact County Supervisors or District Directors, as appropriate, to determine FmHA's environmental requirements as soon as possible after they decide to pursue FmHA financial assistance.
(b) As specified in paragraph (c) of this section, applicants for FmHA assistance will be required to provide information necessary to FmHA to evaluate their proposal's potential environmental impacts and alternatives to them. For example, the applicant will be required to provide a complete description of the project elements and the proposed
site(s) to include location maps, topographic maps, and photographs when needed. The applicant will also be required to provide data on any expected gaseous, liquid and solid wastes to be produced, including hazardous wastes as defined by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act or State law, and all permits and/or correspondence issued by the appropriate local, State, and Federal agencies which regulate treatment and disposal practices.
(c) Form RD 1940-20, "Request for Environmental Information," will be used for obtaining environmental information from applicants whose proposals require an environmental assessment under the requirements of this subpart. These same applicants must notify the appropriate State Historic Preservation Officer of the filing of the application and provide a detailed project description as specified in Item 2 of Form RD 1940-20 and the FMI. If the applicant's proposal meets the definition of a Class II action as defined in §1940.312 of this subpart, all of Form RD 1940-20 must be completed. If the applicant's proposal meets the definition of a Class I action as defined in §1940.311 of this subpart, the entire form need not be completed, but just the face of the form and categories (1), (2), (13), (15), (16), and (17) of Item 1b of the FMI. As an exception to the foregoing statement, an applicant for an action that is normally categorically excluded but requires a Class I assessment for any of the reasons stated in §1940.317(e) of this subpart is not required to complete Form RD 1940-20. Additionally, for Class I actions within the Farm Programs, a site visit by the FmHA official completing the environmental assessment obviates the need for the applicant to complete any of the form, and the adoption by FmHA of a Soil Conservation Service (SCS) environmental assessment or evaluation for the action obviates the need to complete the form for either a Class I or Class II action.
(d) Applicants will ensure that all required materials are current, sufficiently detailed and complete, and are submitted directly to the FmHA office processing the application. Incomplete materials or delayed submittals may seriously jeopardize consideration or postponement of a proposed action by FmHA.
(e) During the period of application review and processing, applicants will not take any actions with respect to their proposed undertakings which are the subject of the application and which would have an adverse impact on the environment or limit the range of alternatives. This requirement does not preclude development by applicants of preliminary plans or designs or performance of other work necessary to support an application for Federal, State, or local permits or assistance. However, the development of detailed plans and specifications is discouraged when the costs involved inhibit the realistic consideration of alternative proposals.
(f) Applicants are required to provide public notification and to fully cooperate in holding public information meetings as described in §§1940.318(e), 1940.320(c) and (g), and 1940.331(b) and (c) of this subpart.
(g) Any applicant that is directly and adversely affected by an administrative decision made by FmHA under this subpart may appeal that decision under the provisions of Subpart B of Part 1900 of this chapter.
§1940.310 Categorical exclusions from National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews.
(a) General guidelines. The following actions have been determined not to have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment, either individually or cumulatively. They will not be subject to environmental assessments or impact statements. It must be emphasized that even though these actions are excluded from further environmental reviews under NEPA, they are not excluded from either the policy considerations contained in §§1940.303 through 1940.305 of this subpart or from compliance with other applicable local, State, or Federal environmental laws. Also, the actions preceded by an asterisk (*) are not excluded from further review depending upon whether in some cases they would be located within, or in other cases, potentially affect
(1) a floodplain,
(2) a wetland,
(3) important farmlands, or prime forestlands or rangelands,
(4) a listed species or critical habitat for an endangered species,
(5) a property that is listed on or may be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places,
(6) an area within an approved State coastal zone management program,
(7) a coastal barrier or a portion of a barrier within the Coastal Barrier Resources System,
(8) a river or portion of a river included in, or designated for, potential addition to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System,
(9) a sole source aquifer recharge area, or
(10) a State water quality standard (including designated and/or existing beneficial uses and antidegradation requirements).
(i) Whether location within one of the preceding resource areas is sufficient to require a further review or a potential impact to one of them must also be identified to require a review is determined by FmHA's completion of Form RD 1940-22 in accordance with the FMI and §1940.317 of this subpart.
(ii) When the categorical exclusion classification is lost, as specified in §1940.317 of this subpart, the action must be reviewed under the requirements of paragraph (g) of that section. This requirement serves to implement Section 1508.4 of the CEQ regulations which requires Federal agencies to detect extraordinary circumstances in which a normally excluded action may have a significant environmental effect.
(iii) Further guidance on the use of these exclusions is contained in §1940.317 of this subpart.
(b) Housing assistance.
(c) Community and business programs and nonprofit national corporations loan and grant program.
(d) Farm programs.
(1) Financial assistance for the purchase of an existing farm, or an enlargement to one, provided no shifts in land use are proposed beyond the limits stated in paragraphs (d)(10) and (11) of this section;
(2) Financial assistance for the purchase of livestock and essential farm equipment, including crop storing and drying equipment, provided such equipment is not to be used to accommodate shifts in land use beyond the limits stated in paragraphs (d)(10) and (11) of this section;
(3) Financial assistance for
(i) the payment of annual operating expenses, which does not cover activities specifically addressed in this section or §§1940.311 or 1940.312 of this subpart;
(ii) family living expenses, and
(iii) refinancing debts;
*(4) Financial assistance for the construction of essential farm dwellings and service buildings of modest design and cost, as well as repairs and improvements to them;
(5) Financial assistance for onsite water supply facilities to serve a farm dwelling, farm buildings, and livestock needs;
(6) Financial assistance for the installation or enlargement of irrigation facilities, including storage reservoirs, diversion dams, wells, pumping plants, canals, pipelines, and sprinklers designed to irrigate less than 80 acres, provided that neither a State water quality standard, a property listed or potentially eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, a river or portion of a river included in, or designated for, potential addition to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, nor a wetland is affected. If a wetland is affected, the application will fall under Class II as defined in §1940.312 of this subpart. Potential effects to a water quality standard, an historic property or the Wild and Scenic Rivers System require that a review be initiated under a Class I assessment as specified in §1940.317(g) of this subpart.
(7) Financial assistance that solely involves the replacement or restoration of irrigation facilities, to include those facilities described in paragraph (d)(6) of this section, with minimal change in use, size, capacity, or location from the original facility(s) provided that neither a State water quality standard, a property listed or potentially eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, a river or portion of a river included in or designated for potential addition to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, nor a wetland is affected. If a wetland is affected, the application will fall under Class II as defined in §1940.312 of this subpart. Potential effects to a water quality standard, an historic property, or the Wild and Scenic Rivers System require that a Class I assessment be completed as specified in §1940.317(g) of this subpart. Also, to qualify for this exclusion, the facilities to be replaced or restored must have been used for similar irrigation purposes at least two out of the last three consecutive growing seasons. Otherwise, the action will be viewed as an installation of irrigation facilities.
(8) Financial assistance for the development of farm ponds or lakes of no more than 5 acres in size, provided that, neither a State water quality standard, a property listed or potentially eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, a river or portion of a river included in or designated for potential addition to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, nor a wetland is affected. If a wetland is affected, the application will fall under Class II as defined in §1940.312 of this subpart. Potential effects to a water quality standard, an historic property, or the Wild and Scenic Rivers System require that a review be initiated under a Class I assessment as specified in §1940.317(g) of this subpart;
*(9) Financial assistance for the conversion of
(i) land in agricultural production to pastures or forests, or
(ii) pastures to forests;
*(10) Financial assistance for land-clearing operations of no more than 15 acres, provided no wetlands are affected, and financial assistance for any amount of land involved in tree harvesting conducted on a sustained yield basis and according to a Federal, State or other governmental unit approved forestry management and marketing plan; and
(11) Financial assistance for the conversion of no more than 160 acres of pasture to agricultural production, provided that in a conversion to agricultural production no State water quality standard or wetlands are affected. If a wetland is affected, the application will fall under Class II as defined in §1940.312 of this subpart. If a water quality standard would be impaired or antidegradation requirement not met, a Class I assessment is required as specified in §1940.317 (g) of this subpart.
(e) General exclusions.
(1) The award of financial assistance for planning purposes, management and feasibility studies, or environmental impact analyses;
(2) For actions other than those covered by Exhibit M of this subpart, loan-closing and servicing activities, transfers, assumptions, subordinations, construction management activities and amendments and revisions to approved projects, including the provision of additional financial assistance that do not alter the purpose, operation, location, or design of the project as originally approved;
(3) The issuance of regulations and instructions, as well as amendments to them, describing administrative and financial procedures for processing, approving, and implementing the Agency's financial assistance programs;
(4) Procurement activities for goods and services, routine facility operations, personnel actions, and other such management activities related to the operation of the Agency;
(5) Reduction in force or employee transfers resulting from workload adjustments, reduced personnel or funding levels, skill imbalances, or other similar circumstances; and
*(6) The lease or disposal of real property by FmHA whenever the transaction is either not controversial for environmental reasons or will not result in a change in use of the real property within the reasonably foreseeable future.