Publications iconKansas Register

Volume 40 - Issue 1 - January 7, 2021

State of Kansas

Department of Agriculture
Division of Conservation

Notice of Hearing on Proposed Administrative Regulation

A public hearing will be conducted at 1:00 p.m. March 9, 2021, by the Kansas Department of Agriculture to consider the adoption of a proposed regulation. The public hearing will be conducted only via video conferencing system due to concerns posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the public will not be permitted to attend the public hearing in person. Anyone desiring to participate in the public hearing via video conference must pre-register at https://kansasag.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMpduqvqDsjH9HMpVP80roy1NnG7tt-5Lpz.

This 60-day notice of the public hearing shall constitute a public comment period for the purpose of receiving written public comments on the proposed rule and regulation. Prior to the hearing, all interested parties may submit written comments by mail to the Secretary of Agriculture, 1320 Research Park Dr., Manhattan, KS 66502, or by email to ronda.hutton@ks.gov. All interested parties will also be given a reasonable opportunity to orally present their views on the adoption of the proposed rule and regulation during the hearing. In order to give all parties an opportunity to present their views, it may be necessary to request that each participant limit any oral presentation to five minutes. The rule and regulation are proposed for adoption on a permanent basis. A summary of the proposed rule and regulation and its economic impact follows:

The proposed revision in K.A.R. 11-9-5 will provide for a one-time early payout of existing long-term state incentive contracts for landowners already enrolled in Conservation Reserve Program (“CRP”) conservation practices under the Kansas Water Quality Buffer Initiative (“KWQB Initiative”) authorized by K.S.A. 2-1915(d).

Economic Impact Statement:

KWQB Initiative payments are not mandated by the federal government but are state authorized additional payments to encourage participation in existing federal programs.

The state of Missouri offers a similar buffer incentive program in which state incentive payments are paid in amounts ranging from $100–$150 per acre in addition to a federal riparian, wetland or wildlife conservation program. The state of Nebraska offers a similar buffer incentive program in which an incentive payment is paid in amounts ranging up to $250 per acre, either in combination with enrollment in a federal riparian, wetland or wildlife conservation program, or as just a state enrollment in a riparian, wetland or wildlife conservation program. These states make payments over the life of the CRP contract as well. The states of Colorado and Oklahoma do not appear to offer similar state incentives for buffer enrollments.

Business activities and growth may see a minor increase due to the accelerated financial revenues which landowners will realize from the early state incentive contract payouts rather than having to collect small payouts over a longer period.

There will not be an economic impact on implementation and compliance because landowners have already agreed to implement the conservation practices for an agreed incentive payment.

Businesses that will be directly affected by the proposed rule and regulation are farming operations, environmental non-profits, and other land-owning entities.

The state of Kansas has already committed to the costs of these state incentive contracts. Providing an early payout to landowners will drastically reduce the administrative cost to the agency by reducing the staff time involved with constantly updating the changes in ownership information and processing of updates to the state incentive contracts which are associated with the federal CRP contracts. Mailing costs will also be drastically decreased because one final check will be mailed to the recipients instead of repeated mailings over the remaining life of the contracts. Allowing early payouts will reduce costs to the state and allow landowners to maximize their incentive money.

The estimated total annual implementation, total implementation and compliance costs that are expected to be incurred by or passed along to businesses, local governments, or members of the public is zero.

It is estimated that approximately 160 staff hours are spent each year by administrative and financial personnel who are involved in the annual updating and processing of these state incentive contract records and payments. At an average salary of $25 per person, at least $4,000 per year are invested in the annual upkeep of the contract records and mailings. Considering a remaining average contract life of 6.25 years per contract, approximately $40,000 could be saved by reducing the payments to one early final payment.

In FY2021, the annual payment for these 627 remaining state incentive contracts will be $82,320. The last of these 627 contracts will not expire until September 30, 2031. The total remaining liability for all of these remaining 627 state incentive contracts is approximately $657,000.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture mailed notification letters to the League of Kansas Municipalities, Kansas Association of Counties and the Kansas Association of School Boards along with a copy of the proposed amended regulation and impact statement.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture consulted with the State Conservation Commission, the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, and with many individual county conservation districts and individual state incentive contract holding landowners about the benefits of providing these early contract payouts.

No costs will accrue if the proposed rule and regulation are not adopted, other than the previously mentioned administrative costs. The environmental impact portion of the regulation will be completed regardless of when the incentive payment is complete.

Any individual with a disability may request accommodations to participate in the public hearing and may request the proposed regulation and impact statement in an accessible format. Requests for accommodations should be made at least five working days in advance of the hearing by contacting Ronda Hutton at 785-564-6715 or fax 785-564-6777.

Copies of the regulation and its economic impact statement may be obtained by contacting the Department of Agriculture, Ronda Hutton, 1320 Research Park Dr., Manhattan, KS 66502 or 785-564-6715 or by accessing the department’s website at https://www.agriculture.ks.gov. Comments may also be made through our website at https://www.agriculture.ks.gov/document-services/public-comment.

Mike Beam
Secretary

Doc. No. 048749