B-141164, NOV. 13, 1959

B-141164: Nov 13, 1959

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IT IS EXPLAINED THAT IN SOME CASES PRODUCERS WHO HAVE ENTERED INTO LONG- TERM CONSERVATION RESERVE CONTRACTS WILL SUFFER UNDUE HARDSHIPS IF REQUIRED TO CONTINUE TO CARRY OUT THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THEIR CONTRACT. IT IS PROPOSED TO AMEND THE REGULATIONS TO PROVIDE THAT THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE PROGRAM MAY TERMINATE ANY CONTRACT WITH A PRODUCER IN ANY CASE WHERE THE ADMINISTRATOR DETERMINES THAT CONTINUATION OF SUCH CONTRACT WOULD WORK AN UNDUE HARDSHIP ON THE PRODUCER. THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY IS OF THE VIEW THAT AUTHORITY FOR THE PROPOSED ACTION IS PROVIDED BY SECTION 110 OF THE SOIL BANK ACT. IT MAY BE POINTED OUT THAT THE CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM WAS INTENDED AS A PROGRAM UNDER WHICH PARTICIPATION BY PRODUCERS WOULD BE VOLUNTARY.

B-141164, NOV. 13, 1959

TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE:

BY LETTER OF OCTOBER 30, 1959, THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE REQUESTED OUR OPINION AS TO HIS AUTHORITY TO TAKE CERTAIN ACTION REGARDING THE CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM.

IT IS EXPLAINED THAT IN SOME CASES PRODUCERS WHO HAVE ENTERED INTO LONG- TERM CONSERVATION RESERVE CONTRACTS WILL SUFFER UNDUE HARDSHIPS IF REQUIRED TO CONTINUE TO CARRY OUT THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THEIR CONTRACT. CONSEQUENTLY, IT IS PROPOSED TO AMEND THE REGULATIONS TO PROVIDE THAT THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE PROGRAM MAY TERMINATE ANY CONTRACT WITH A PRODUCER IN ANY CASE WHERE THE ADMINISTRATOR DETERMINES THAT CONTINUATION OF SUCH CONTRACT WOULD WORK AN UNDUE HARDSHIP ON THE PRODUCER.

THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY IS OF THE VIEW THAT AUTHORITY FOR THE PROPOSED ACTION IS PROVIDED BY SECTION 110 OF THE SOIL BANK ACT, 70 STAT. 194, WHICH READS AS FOLLOWS:

"/A) THE SECRETARY MAY TERMINATE ANY CONTRACT WITH A PRODUCER BY MUTUAL AGREEMENT WITH THE PRODUCER IF THE SECRETARY DETERMINES THAT SUCH TERMINATION WOULD BE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.

"/B) THE SECRETARY MAY AGREE TO SUCH MODIFICATION OF CONTRACTS PREVIOUSLY ENTERED INTO AS HE MAY DETERMINE TO BE DESIRABLE TO CARRY OUT THE PURPOSES OF THIS TITLE AND TO FACILITATE THE PRACTICAL ADMINISTRATION OF THE CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM.'

IN SUPPORT OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S VIEW HE STATES THAT---

"WE BELIEVE THAT IT WOULD BE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST TO PERMIT A PRODUCER TO TERMINATE HIS CONTRACT WHEN TO REQUIRE ITS CONTINUATION WOULD CAUSE THE PRODUCER TO SUFFER UNDUE HARDSHIP. IN THIS CONNECTION, IT MAY BE POINTED OUT THAT THE CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM WAS INTENDED AS A PROGRAM UNDER WHICH PARTICIPATION BY PRODUCERS WOULD BE VOLUNTARY. WE BELIEVE THAT TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PRACTICABLE THE PROGRAM SHOULD BE ADMINISTERED ON THIS BASIS. IT IS EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO ADMINISTER THE PROGRAM SUCCESSFULLY AND ACHIEVE THE OBJECTIVES OF THE ACT WHEN CIRCUMSTANCES OF UNDUE HARDSHIP MAKE IT BURDENSOME FOR THE PRODUCER TO CONTINUE HIS CONTRACT.'

THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY IN EXPLAINING PROVISIONS OF S. 3183 (WHICH WERE INCORPORATED INTO H.R. 12 BY AMENDMENT) IDENTICAL TO SECTION 110 OF THE SOIL BANK ACT STATED AT PAGE 11 OF SENATE REPORT NO. 1484 THAT---

"ANY CONTRACT COULD BE TERMINATED BY MUTUAL AGREEMENT WITH THE PRODUCER IF THE SECRETARY DETERMINED THAT SUCH TERMINATION WOULD BE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST. PROVISION IS ALSO MADE FOR THE MODIFICATION OF CONTRACTS PREVIOUSLY ENTERED INTO. IN VIEW OF THE LONG-TERM CONTRACTS AUTHORIZED, THE SECRETARY IS GIVEN BROAD AUTHORITY TO AGREE TO SUCH MODIFICATIONS, WITHOUT OBTAINING TECHNICAL CONSIDERATION THEREFOR, AS HE DETERMINES TO BE DESIRABLE EITHER TO CARRY OUT THE PURPOSES OF THE ACT OR TO FACILITATE THE PRACTICAL ADMINISTRATION OF THE CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM.'

(H.R. 12 WAS VETOED BY THE PRESIDENT, BUT THE SOIL BANK PROVISIONS WERE REINTRODUCED AS PART OF H.R. 10875 AND ENACTED AS THE SOIL BANK ACT.)

IN VIEW OF THE BROAD AUTHORITY CONTAINED IN SECTION 110 AND THE PURPOSE THEREOF AS EXPLAINED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY, IT IS OUR OPINION THAT THE REGULATIONS MAY BE AMENDED IN THE MANNER PROPOSED, PROVIDED, OF COURSE, IT IS DETERMINED BY YOU THAT SUCH ACTION WOULD BE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.