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MAINE BULLETIN NO. ME 440-10-1

                                                                                                        
 

                                                                                                            April 19, 2010
 

Subject: PGM – Section 1619 of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 Farm Bill
 

Purpose. To notify Maine employees of the requirement for an “Acknowledgement of Section 1619 Compliance” to implement the confidentiality requirements of Section 1619 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill).

Expiration Date. September 30, 2010

Background. Section 1619 of the Farm Bill prohibits the Secretary of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees, and the Department of Agriculture’s cooperators from disclosing certain information provided by agricultural landowners and producers in order to participate in USDA programs. Cooperators include conservation districts, State and local government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and individual consultants that assist USDA, as necessary to deliver conservation programs, assist with cultural or environmental compliance work, or both. Such Cooperators could operate under a cooperative agreement, contribution agreement, contract, technical service provider provision, or other partnership arrangement.

Explanation. The attached Acknowledgement template implements the requirements of Section 1619 of the 2008 Farm Bill. Cooperators must sign it if they are to continue to receive protected program data, including personally identifiable information. The Acknowledgement replaces former requirements for separate agreements for each partner employee or member. After execution of the Acknowledgement, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) may provide information that is protected under Section 1619 to the Cooperator and continue to provide information through the current agreement with the Cooperator. The Cooperator is legally bound to comply with the confidentiality provisions set forth in Section 1619 and will be held responsible for violations of the Acknowledgement and Section 1619.

This template should be modified to include the name of the Cooperator, type of data to share, type of original agreement with Cooperator, and kind of work to be performed. It must then be signed and dated by the Cooperator.

Action. District Conservationists are to review, discuss and customize the template with District Boards and obtain signatures by May 30, 2010. State Program Managers will review existing agreements (cooperative agreements, contribution agreements or other instruments which necessitate the sharing of information) and determine need for signed template. These will be completed by May 30, 2010. RC&D Coordinators must review current projects and future projects and determine need for Council to sign Acknowledgement. If Acknowledgement is necessary for current projects, these will be obtained by May 30, 2010.

A General Manual Supplement will be forthcoming. If you are unsure about how or when to use the template, what kinds of information is prohibited from being released under Section 1619, or if a Cooperator declines to sign the acknowledgement, contact Cathee Wilson, Maine NRCS Freedom of Information (FOIA) Officer.

Contact. Cathee Wilson, State Administrative Officer at 207-990-9567 or email Cathee.wilson@me.usda.gov or Pauline Paré, ASTC for Operations at 207-990-9554 or email Pauline.pare@me.usda.gov.


/s/  Juan C. Hernandez

JUAN C. HERNANDEZ
State Conservationist

Attachments

The following document requires  Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)

Attachment  - Acknowledgement of Section 1619 Compliance (.pdf)
Attachment - Acknowledgement of Section 1619 Compliance (.doc)