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Full Text of this Amendment

SA 3772. Mr. HARKIN (for himself, Mr. Smith, Mr. Bingaman, Mrs. Boxer, Mr. Domenici, Mr. Cardin, Mr. Allard, Mr. Sessions, and Mr. Nelson of Florida) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill H.R. 2419, to provide for the continuation of agricultural programs through fiscal year 2012, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

Beginning on page 461, strike line 24 and all that follows through page 474, line 25, and insert the following:
``(f) Partnerships and Cooperation.--
``(1) IN GENERAL.--In carrying out each program under subtitle D (excluding the wetlands reserve program and the conservation reserve program), the Secretary may designate special projects to enhance assistance provided to multiple producers to address conservation issues relating to agricultural and nonindustrial private forest management and production, if recommended by the applicable State Conservationist, in consultation with the State technical committee.
``(2) PURPOSES.--The purposes of special projects carried out under this subsection shall be to achieve local, statewide, or regional conservation objectives by--
``(A) encouraging producers to cooperate in the installation and maintenance of conservation practices that affect multiple agricultural operations;
``(B) encouraging producers to cooperate in meeting applicable Federal, State, and local regulatory requirements regarding natural resources and the environment;
``(C) encouraging producers to share information and technical and financial resources;
``(D) facilitating cumulative conservation benefits in geographic areas;
``(E) promoting the development and demonstration of innovative conservation methods; and
``(F) seeking opportunities to simultaneously advance--
``(i) the conservation of natural resources; and
``(ii) the community development and economic conditions of agricultural areas.
``(3) ELIGIBLE PARTNERS.--State and local government entities (including irrigation and water districts and canal companies), Indian tribes, farmer cooperatives, institutions of higher education, nongovernmental organizations, and producer associations shall be eligible to apply under this subsection.
``(4) SPECIAL PROJECT APPLICATION.--To apply for designation as a special project under paragraph (1), partners shall submit an application to the Secretary that includes--
``(A) a description of the geographic area, the current conditions, the conservation objectives to be achieved through the special project, and the expected level of participation by agricultural and nonindustrial private forest landowners;
``(B) a description of the partners collaborating to achieve the project objectives and the roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of the partners;
``(C) a description of the program resources from 1 or more programs under subtitle D that are requested from the Secretary, in relevant units, and the non-Federal resources that will be leveraged by the Federal contribution;
``(D) a description of--
``(i) any proposed program adjustment described in paragraph (5)(D)(ii); and
``(ii) the means by which each proposed program adjustment will accelerate the achievement of environmental benefits;
``(E) a description of the plan for monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on any progress made towards achieving the purposes of the special project; and
``(F) such other information as the Secretary considers necessary.
``(A) IN GENERAL.--The Secretary shall enter into multiyear agreements with partners to facilitate the delivery of conservation program resources in a manner to achieve the purposes described in paragraph (2).
``(i) IN GENERAL.--The Secretary shall conduct a competitive process to select projects funded under this subsection.
``(ii) FACTORS CONSIDERED.--In conducting the process described in clause (i), the Secretary shall make public factors to be considered in evaluating applications.
``(iii) PRIORITY.--The Secretary may give priority to applications based on--
``(I) the highest percentage of producers involved, and the inclusion of the highest percentage of working agricultural land in the area;
``(II) the highest percentage of on-the-ground conservation to be implemented;
``(III) non-Federal resources to be leveraged;
``(IV) cost-effectiveness;
``(V) the highest likelihood of achieving project goals and objectives;
``(VI) innovation in conservation methods and delivery, including outcome-based performance measures and methods;
``(VII) innovation in linking conservation and community development objectives; and
``(VIII) other factors, as determined by the Secretary.
``(C) TECHNICAL AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.--The Secretary and partners shall provide appropriate technical and financial assistance to producers participating in a special project in an amount determined by the Secretary to be necessary to achieve the purposes described in paragraph (2).
``(i) IN GENERAL.--The Secretary shall ensure that resources made available under this subsection are delivered in accordance with applicable program rules relating to basic program functions, including appeals, payment limitations, and conservation compliance.
``(ii) FLEXIBILITY.--The Secretary may adjust elements of the programs under this title to better reflect unique local circumstances and purposes, if the Secretary determines that such adjustments are necessary to achieve the purposes of this subsection.
``(iii) ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS.--The Secretary may establish additional requirements beyond applicable program rules in order to effectively implement this subsection.
``(A) DEFINITIONS.--In this paragraph:
``(i) ELIGIBLE PARTNER.--The term `eligible partner' means--
``(I) an eligible partner identified in paragraph (3); and
``(II) a water or wastewater agency of a State.
``(I) IN GENERAL.--The term `eligible project' means a project that is specifically targeted to improve water quality or quantity in an area.
``(II) INCLUSIONS.--The term `eligible project' includes a project that involves--
``(aa) resource condition assessment and modeling;
``(bb) water quality, water quantity, or water conservation plan development;
``(cc) management system and environmental monitoring and evaluation;
``(dd) cost-share restoration or enhancement;
``(ee) incentive payments for land management practices;
``(ff) easement purchases;
``(gg) conservation contracts with landowners;
``(hh) improved irrigation systems;
``(ii) water banking and other forms of water transactions;
``(jj) groundwater recharge;
``(kk) stormwater capture; and
``(ll) other water-related activities that the Secretary determines will help to achieve the water quality or water quantity benefits identified in the agreement in subparagraph (E) on land described in paragraph (1).
``(B) REGIONAL WATER ENHANCEMENT PROCEDURES.--With respect to proposals for eligible projects by eligible partners, the Secretary shall establish specific procedures (to be known collectively as `regional water enhancement procedures') in accordance with this paragraph.
``(C) MEANS.--Regional water enhancement activities in a particular region shall be carried out through a combination of--
``(i) multiyear agreements between the Secretary and eligible partners;
``(ii) other regional water enhancement activities carried out by the Secretary; and
``(iii) regional water enhancement activities carried out by eligible partners through other means.
``(i) SOLICITATION OF PROPOSALS.--Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this subsection, the Secretary shall invite prospective eligible partners to submit proposals for regional water enhancement projects.
``(ii) ELEMENTS OF PROPOSALS.--To be eligible for consideration for participation in the program, a proposal submitted by an eligible partner shall include--
``(I) identification of the exact geographic area for which the partnership is proposed, which may be based on--
``(aa) a watershed (or portion of a watershed);
``(bb) an irrigation, water, or drainage district;
``(cc) the service area of an irrigation water delivery entity; or
``(dd) some other geographic area with characteristics that make the area suitable for landscape-wide program implementation;
``(II) identification of the water quality or water quantity issues that are of concern in the area;
``(III) a method for determining a baseline assessment of water quality, water quantity, and other related resource conditions in the region;
``(IV) a detailed description of the proposed water quality or water quantity improvement activities to be undertaken in the area, including an estimated timeline and program resources for every activity; and
``(V) a description of the performance measures to be used to gauge the effectiveness of the water quality or water quantity improvement activities.
``(iii) SELECTION OF PROPOSALS.--The Secretary shall award multiyear agreements competitively, with priority given, as determined by the Secretary, to selecting proposals that--
``(I) have the highest likelihood of improving the water quality or quantity issues of concern for the area;
``(II) involve multiple stakeholders and will ensure the highest level of participation by producers and landowners in the area through performance incentives to encourage adoption of specific practices in specific locations;
``(III) will result in the inclusion of the highest percentage of working agricultural land in the area;
``(IV) will result in the highest percentage of on-the-ground activities as compared to administrative costs;
``(V) will provide the greatest contribution to sustaining or enhancing agricultural or silvicultural production in the area; and
``(VI) include performance measures that will allow post-activity conditions to be satisfactorily measured to gauge overall effectiveness.
``(I) IN GENERAL.--Subject to subclause (II), the Secretary shall identify areas in which protecting or improving water quality or water quantity is a priority.
``(II) MANDATORY INCLUSIONS.--The Secretary shall include in any identification of areas under subclause (I)--
``(aa) the Chesapeake Bay;
``(bb) the Upper Mississippi River basin;
``(cc) the greater Everglades ecosystem;
``(dd) the Klamath River basin;
``(ee) the Sacramento/San Joaquin River watershed;
``(ff) the Mobile River basin;
``(gg) the Puget Sound; and
``(hh) the Ogallala Aquifer.
``(III) FUNDING.--The Secretary shall reserve for use in areas identified under this clause not more than 50 percent of amounts made available for regional water enhancement activities under this paragraph.
``(E) AGREEMENTS.--Not later than 30 days after the date on which the Secretary awards an agreement under subparagraph (D), the Secretary shall enter into an agreement with the eligible partner that, at a minimum, contains--
``(i) a description of the respective duties and responsibilities of the Secretary and the eligible partner in carrying out the activities in the area; and
``(ii) the criteria that the Secretary will use to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the regional water enhancement activities funded by the multiyear agreement in improving the water quality or quantity conditions of the region relative to the performance measures in the proposal.
``(F) CONTRACTS WITH OTHER PARTIES.--An agreement awarded under subparagraph (D) may provide for the use of third-party providers (including other eligible partners) to undertake specific regional water enhancement activities in a region on a contractual basis with the Secretary or the eligible partner.
``(G) CONSULTATION WITH OTHER AGENCIES.--With respect to areas in which a Federal or State agency is, or will be, undertaking other water quality or quantity-related activities, the Secretary and the eligible partner may consult with the Federal or State agency in order to--
``(i) coordinate activities;
``(ii) avoid duplication; and
``(iii) ensure that water quality or quantity improvements attributable to the other activities are taken into account in the evaluation of the Secretary under subparagraph (E)(ii).
``(H) RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER PROGRAMS.--The Secretary shall ensure that, to the extent that producers and landowners are individually participating in other programs under subtitle D in a region in which a regional water enhancement project is in effect, any improvements to water quality or water quantity attributable to the individual participation are included in the evaluation criteria developed under subparagraph (E)(ii).
``(I) CONSISTENCY WITH STATE LAW.--Any water quality or water quantity improvement activity undertaken under this paragraph shall be consistent with State water laws.
``(7) DURATION.--
``(A) IN GENERAL.--Multiyear agreements under this subsection shall be for a period not to exceed 5 years.
``(B) EARLY TERMINATION.--The Secretary may terminate a multiyear agreement before the end of the agreement if the Secretary determines that performance measures are not being met.
``(8) FUNDING.--
``(A) SET ASIDE.--
``(i) IN GENERAL.--Of the funds provided for each of fiscal years 2008 through 2012 to carry out the conservation programs in subtitle D (excluding the conservation reserve program, the conservation security program, the conservation stewardship program, and the wetlands reserve program), the Secretary shall reserve 10 percent for use for activities under this section.
``(ii) CONSERVATION STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM.--Of the acres allocated for the conservation stewardship program for each of fiscal years 2008 through 2012, the Secretary shall reserve 10 percent for use for activities under this section.
``(B) STATE PROJECTS.--Of the funds and acres allocated to each State in each fiscal year by the Secretary to carry out conservation programs under this subsection, not more than 15 percent may be used by the appropriate State Conservationist to carry out special projects (excluding regional water enhancement projects) that are authorized under this subsection.
``(C) PARTNERS.--Overhead or administrative costs of partners may not be covered by funds provided through this subsection.
``(D) UNUSED FUNDING.--Any funds made available, and any acres reserved, for a fiscal year under subparagraph (A) that are not obligated or enrolled by April 1 of the fiscal year may be used to carry out other activities under conservation programs under subtitle D during the fiscal year in which the funding becomes available.''.

(As printed in the Congressional Record for the Senate on Nov 15, 2007.)