Request for Applications for Veteran Farmer Streamlined Eligibility Pilot Program, 25640-25642 [2018-11873]

Download as PDF 25640 Notices Federal Register Vol. 83, No. 107 Monday, June 4, 2018 This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency statements of organization and functions are examples of documents appearing in this section. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Farm Service Agency Request for Applications for Veteran Farmer Streamlined Eligibility Pilot Program Farm Service Agency, USDA. Notice and request for applications. AGENCY: ACTION: The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is announcing the opportunity for interested veterans to apply for a new pilot program, Veteran Farmer Streamlined Eligibility Pilot Program (‘‘Pilot Program’’), which will assist veterans in meeting the management experience requirements at a faster pace for either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan through the Farm Ownership Loan (FO) Program. As set forth in a cooperative agreement between FSA and Texas A&M University, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program employees will expand their existing veterans training program, ‘‘Battleground to Breaking Ground,’’ to incorporate the requirements of the Pilot Program through a cooperative agreement with FSA. FSA will be involved in helping develop and review curriculum, review applications, participate in orientation, and monitor participants’ progress throughout the Pilot Program. The purpose of the Pilot Program is to provide an educational opportunity for veterans so that they can obtain agricultural production, financial, and managerial training at an accelerated pace that will then result in the veteran to be considered conditionally eligible for either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan through the FO Program. DATES: The application period will open on June 15, 2018, and close on July 20, 2018 no later than 11 p.m. CST. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Kimbrough, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program, 979–847–6185, Erin.Kimbrough@ag.tamu.edu or Russ sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Jun 01, 2018 Jkt 244001 Clanton, FSA, 202–690–0214, russ.clanton@wdc.usda.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background FSA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its farm loan programs are authorized by the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act of 1972, as amended (CONACT, Pub. L. 92–419). Farmers or ranchers may be able to get a loan or loan guarantee through FSA’s Farm Loan Programs (FLP) if they are unable to obtain credit elsewhere to start, purchase, sustain, or expand a farm. Unlike loans from a commercial lender, FSA loans are temporary in nature with the goal of graduating loans to commercial credit. Direct loans through the FO Program are used to purchase or enlarge a farm or ranch, construct a new or improve existing farm or ranch buildings, and for soil and water conservation and protection purposes. Downpayment loans and Microloans are types of loans available through the FO Program. Microloans are limited to $50,000.00. See definition of Microloan in 7 CFR 761.2. Currently, in order to be eligible for either Microloans or Downpayment Loan through the FO Program, the applicant must have participated in the business operations of a farm for at least 3 years out of the 10 years prior to the date the application is submitted. In addition, section 302(b)(1) of the CONACT (7 U.S.C. 1922) provides the Secretary with the flexibility to determine ‘‘other acceptable experience for a period of time.’’ For example, FSA currently allows 1 of the 3 years to be substituted with leadership or management experience while serving in any branch of the military (see 7 CFR 764.152(d)(3)). For the Pilot Program, FSA is building on the CONACT’s flexibility in order to allow veterans to qualify for FSA’s managerial experience in a quicker timeframe. Section 333D of the CONACT (7 U.S.C. 1983d) provides FSA with the authority to conduct a pilot program in order to evaluate its current processes in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the farm loan programs. The Congressional Directives in the explanatory statement for the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017 PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 (Division A, Pub. L. 115–31) directs FSA to support a certified training program for veteran farmers to be prequalified for direct FOs (see page H3331 (https:// www.congress.gov/crec/2017/05/03/ CREC-2017-05-03-bk2.pdf). The purpose of this Pilot Program is to provide an educational opportunity to veteran farmers so that they can obtain production, financial, and managerial training and other required experiences as specified in 7 CFR 764.101 and 764.152 to potentially qualify for either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan through the FO Program in 12–18 months rather than the current timeline of 2 years. FSA’s goal through the use of the Pilot Program is that there will be a better educated applicant, better customer service for the applicant and the seller of the farm, more efficient loan approval process for the loan officer and a more successful farm borrower. The agency will review the outcome of the Pilot Program to determine if this is a cost effective approach that leads to greater borrower success. A successful Pilot Program may lead to a broader use of this approach with other universities or with other applicants. FSA strongly encourages American Veterans who are seeking a career in agriculture to apply to for the Pilot Program. The most challenging barriers for new or beginning farmer or ranchers, including veterans who desire to enter into agriculture businesses, are access to both land and capital. Access to capital is not limited to the availability of credit, but also to the ability of an applicant to meet the eligibility requirements for either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan through the FO Program. This includes having the requisite managerial experience and ability to develop and present a viable business plan. By offering specific agricultural production and financial training, as well as hands on mentoring in the veteran’s chosen area of agriculture, a conditional loan eligibility will be earned upon on the completion of the Pilot Program. FSA has found that veterans are very interested in starting a farming or ranching business, which led to developing the Pilot Program. Specifically, in response to the request for comments about farm loan pilot projects after the 2014 Farm Bill (79 FR 60805–60807, October 8, 2014), two of E:\FR\FM\04JNN1.SGM 04JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 107 / Monday, June 4, 2018 / Notices sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES the comments that FSA received focused specifically on helping veterans. One of those comments specifically recommended a pilot training program. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program is already operating under the heading ‘‘Battleground to Breaking Ground.’’ FSA’s Pilot Program expands on the existing program curriculum to prepare veterans for financing from FSA. The Pilot Program will be a combination of written course work offered online, an individual education plan that includes hands on agricultural production workshops, and mentorships. Upon conclusion of the course, a veteran will meet the business operation requirement as specified in 7 CFR 764.101 and 764.152 for eligibility up to 1 year sooner and will be considered conditionally eligible for either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan through FO Program. Eligibility Information The applicant must meet the following eligibility requirements and will self-certify to the following when applying online for Texas A&M’s Battleground to Breaking Ground program and provide additional documentation where specified below: 1. The applicant is a veteran. After being selected for the Pilot Program, applicants will need certain documentation such as DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, or other military ID to verify veteran status to participate in the Pilot Program and to apply for either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan through the FO Program; 2. The applicant meets all FSA farm loan program eligibility requirements under 7 CFR 764.101 and 764.152, except the farm experience requirement which will be expedited by the Pilot Program; 3. The applicant is not ineligible for Federal benefits based on a conviction of any Federal or State controlled substance offense (see 7 CFR 764.101(a)); 4. The applicant is of legal age, and has mental capacity and authority to enter into a legally binding agreement (see 7 CFR 764.101(b)); 5. The applicant meets citizenship requirements (see 7 CFR 764.101(c)); 6. The applicant provides a credit report from one of the three main credit reporting agencies at the time of orientation to the Pilot Program. If a history of failures to repay past debts as they came due was out of the control of the applicant, the applicant may wish to submit a written description of the circumstances for the consideration of VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Jun 01, 2018 Jkt 244001 the committee. Lack of credit history or isolated incidents of delinquent payments is not considered poor credit. Credit scores are not used to make a determination of credit worthiness (see 7 CFR 764.101(d)); 7. The applicant has properly fulfilled prior obligations to other parties, including other agencies of the Federal Government (see 7 CFR 764.101(d)(2)); 8. The applicant is unable to obtain sufficient credit elsewhere to finance actual needs at reasonable rates and terms. When the loan application is filed, FSA will evaluate the ability to obtain credit based on factors including, but not limited to: a. Loan amounts, rates, and terms available in the marketplace; and b. Property interests, income, and significant non-essential assets (see 7 CFR 764.101(e)); 9. The applicant meets the unpaid Federal judgement and delinquent Federal debt requirements in 7 CFR 764.101(f) and (g); 10. The applicant meets the Federal Crop Insurance Violations requirements in 7 CFR 764.101(h); and 11. The applicant meets the prior debt forgiveness requirements in 7 CFR 764.152(b). Application and Submission Information Each veteran must complete an electronic application for the Battleground to Breaking Ground Program through Texas A&M’s website, http://txagrability.tamu.edu/. In addition, in order to participate in the Pilot Program, the applicant must selfcertify to the eligibility requirements discussed above and provided at the Texas A&M website. The application period will open June 15, 2018, and close on July 20, 2018 no later than 11 p.m. CST. No applications will be accepted after the due date. Application Review Information Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program employees will score and rank the ‘‘Battlefield to Breaking Ground’’ applications using the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program matrix. FSA will look at the top ranked applicants from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program scoring and will select, in order of ranking, the top 15 to 18 applications. FSA will then confirm eligibility on the selected applications for participation in the Pilot Program. In the case of a tied score for the Pilot Program selection, FSA will review the applicant’s narrative addressing the applicant’s readiness to farm to make a selection. The readiness to farm question is part of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 25641 program application. Applicants not selected for the Pilot Program due to FSA’s loan eligibility criteria will still have the option to participate in the ‘‘Battleground to Breaking Ground’’ program at the discretion of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program will notify all applicants by email. Applicants will not be considered a participant in the Pilot Program until after they have signed an expectation agreement supplied by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program as part of its existing veterans ‘‘Battleground to Breaking Ground’’ program. The expectation agreement specifies the requirements for completion of the ‘‘Battleground to Breaking Ground’’ program. Program Completion Successful completion of the Pilot Program will result in the veteran receiving a certificate from FSA as well as a developed business plan. Successful completion will also result in the veteran being conditionally eligible for either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan through the FO Program. The veteran should apply for the loan within 2 years of successfully completing the Pilot Program, unless the business plan is based on a later start date. Participants who do not complete the Pilot Program may not be considered conditionally eligible for either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan through the FO Program. Other Provisions In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family or parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication should contact the USDA Target Center at (202) 720–2600 (voice). Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. E:\FR\FM\04JNN1.SGM 04JNN1 25642 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 107 / Monday, June 4, 2018 / Notices To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD– 3027, found online at https:// www.ascr.usda.gov/filing-programdiscrimination-complaint-usdacustomer, and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, you may call (866) 632–9992. You may submit your completed form or letter to any of the following options: • Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250–9410; • Fax: (202) 690–7442; or • Email: program.intake@usda.gov. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender. Richard Fordyce, Administrator, Farm Service Agency. [FR Doc. 2018–11873 Filed 6–1–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–05–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Housing Service Notice of Request for Revision of a Currently Approved Information Collection Rural Housing Service, USDA. Proposed collection; comments requested. AGENCY: ACTION: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Rural Housing Service’s (RHS) intention to request a revision for a currently approved information collection in support of the program for Self-Help Technical Assistance Grants. DATES: Comments on this notice must be received by August 3, 2018 to be assured of consideration. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrea Birmingham, Finance and Loan Analyst, Single Family Housing Direct Loan Division, RHS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Stop 0783, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20250–0783, Telephone (202) 720– 1489. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Title: 7 CFR 1944–I, Self-Help Technical Assistance Grants. OMB Number: 0575–0043. Expiration Date of Approval: October 31, 2018. Type of Request: Extension of currently approved information collection. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:35 Jun 01, 2018 Jkt 244001 Abstract: This subpart set forth the policies and procedures and delegates authority for providing technical assistance funds to eligible applicants to finance programs of technical and supervisory assistance for self-help housing loan program, as authorized under section 523 of the Housing Act of 1949 under 42 U.S.C. 1472. This financial assistance may pay part or all of the cost of developing, administering or coordinating program of technical and supervisory assistance to aid very low- and low-income families in carrying out self-help housing efforts in rural areas. The primary purpose is to locate and work with families that otherwise do not qualify as homeowners, are below the 50 percent of median incomes, and living in substandard housing. RHS will be collecting information from non-profit organizations to enter into grant agreements. These non-profit organizations will give technical and supervisory assistance, and in doing so, they must develop a final application for section 523 grant funds. This application includes Agency forms that contain essential information for making a determination of eligibility. Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average .95 hours per response. Respondents: Public or private nonprofit organizations, State, Local or Tribal Governments. Estimated Number of Respondents: 130. Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 24.77. Estimated Number of Responses: 3,220. Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 3,058. Copies of this information collection can be obtained from Jeanne Jacobs, Regulations and Paperwork Management Branch, Support Services Division at (202) 692–0040. Comments: Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the RHS, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of RHS’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments may be sent to Jeanne Jacobs, Regulations and Paperwork Management Branch, Support Services Division, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, STOP 0742, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20250. All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will become a matter of public record. Dated: May 23, 2018. Joel C. Baxley, Administrator, Rural Housing Service. [FR Doc. 2018–11867 Filed 6–1–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–XY–P BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS Government in the Sunshine Act Meeting Notice Wednesday, June 6, 2018, 12:30 p.m. ET. PLACE: Cohen Building, Room 3321, 330 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20237. SUBJECT: Notice of Meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. SUMMARY: The Broadcasting Board of Governors (Board) will be meeting at the time and location listed above. The Board will vote on a consent agenda consisting of the minutes of its March 14, 2018 meeting, a resolution honoring the the 65th anniversary of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Armenian Service—Azatutyun Radiokayan, a resolution honoring the 65th anniversary of RFE/RL’s Georgian Service—Radio Tavisupleba, a resolution honoring the 65th Anniversary of RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service—Radio Azattyq, a resolution honoring the 65th anniversary of RFE/ RL’s Kyrgyz Service—Radio Azattyk, a resolution honoring the 65th anniversary of RFE/RL’s Tajik Service— Radio Ozodi, and a resolution honoring the 65th anniversary of RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service—Radio Ozodlik. The Board will receive a report from the Chief Executive Officer and Director of BBG. This meeting will be available for public observation via streamed webcast, both live and on-demand, on the agency’s public website at www.bbg.gov. Information regarding this meeting, including any updates or adjustments to its starting time, can also be found on the agency’s public website. The public may also attend this meeting in person at the address listed above as seating capacity permits. DATE AND TIME: E:\FR\FM\04JNN1.SGM 04JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 107 (Monday, June 4, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 25640-25642]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-11873]


========================================================================
Notices
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.

========================================================================


Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 107 / Monday, June 4, 2018 / 
Notices

[[Page 25640]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Farm Service Agency


Request for Applications for Veteran Farmer Streamlined 
Eligibility Pilot Program

AGENCY: Farm Service Agency, USDA.

ACTION: Notice and request for applications.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is announcing the opportunity 
for interested veterans to apply for a new pilot program, Veteran 
Farmer Streamlined Eligibility Pilot Program (``Pilot Program''), which 
will assist veterans in meeting the management experience requirements 
at a faster pace for either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan through the 
Farm Ownership Loan (FO) Program. As set forth in a cooperative 
agreement between FSA and Texas A&M University, Texas A&M AgriLife 
Extension program employees will expand their existing veterans 
training program, ``Battleground to Breaking Ground,'' to incorporate 
the requirements of the Pilot Program through a cooperative agreement 
with FSA. FSA will be involved in helping develop and review 
curriculum, review applications, participate in orientation, and 
monitor participants' progress throughout the Pilot Program. The 
purpose of the Pilot Program is to provide an educational opportunity 
for veterans so that they can obtain agricultural production, 
financial, and managerial training at an accelerated pace that will 
then result in the veteran to be considered conditionally eligible for 
either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan through the FO Program.

DATES: The application period will open on June 15, 2018, and close on 
July 20, 2018 no later than 11 p.m. CST.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Erin Kimbrough, Texas A&M AgriLife 
Extension program, 979-847-6185, [email protected] or Russ 
Clanton, FSA, 202-690-0214, [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    FSA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and 
its farm loan programs are authorized by the Consolidated Farm and 
Rural Development Act of 1972, as amended (CONACT, Pub. L. 92-419). 
Farmers or ranchers may be able to get a loan or loan guarantee through 
FSA's Farm Loan Programs (FLP) if they are unable to obtain credit 
elsewhere to start, purchase, sustain, or expand a farm. Unlike loans 
from a commercial lender, FSA loans are temporary in nature with the 
goal of graduating loans to commercial credit. Direct loans through the 
FO Program are used to purchase or enlarge a farm or ranch, construct a 
new or improve existing farm or ranch buildings, and for soil and water 
conservation and protection purposes. Downpayment loans and Microloans 
are types of loans available through the FO Program. Microloans are 
limited to $50,000.00. See definition of Microloan in 7 CFR 761.2.
    Currently, in order to be eligible for either Microloans or 
Downpayment Loan through the FO Program, the applicant must have 
participated in the business operations of a farm for at least 3 years 
out of the 10 years prior to the date the application is submitted. In 
addition, section 302(b)(1) of the CONACT (7 U.S.C. 1922) provides the 
Secretary with the flexibility to determine ``other acceptable 
experience for a period of time.'' For example, FSA currently allows 1 
of the 3 years to be substituted with leadership or management 
experience while serving in any branch of the military (see 7 CFR 
764.152(d)(3)). For the Pilot Program, FSA is building on the CONACT's 
flexibility in order to allow veterans to qualify for FSA's managerial 
experience in a quicker timeframe.
    Section 333D of the CONACT (7 U.S.C. 1983d) provides FSA with the 
authority to conduct a pilot program in order to evaluate its current 
processes in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the 
farm loan programs. The Congressional Directives in the explanatory 
statement for the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug 
Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017 (Division 
A, Pub. L. 115-31) directs FSA to support a certified training program 
for veteran farmers to be prequalified for direct FOs (see page H3331 
(https://www.congress.gov/crec/2017/05/03/CREC-2017-05-03-bk2.pdf).
    The purpose of this Pilot Program is to provide an educational 
opportunity to veteran farmers so that they can obtain production, 
financial, and managerial training and other required experiences as 
specified in 7 CFR 764.101 and 764.152 to potentially qualify for 
either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan through the FO Program in 12-18 
months rather than the current timeline of 2 years. FSA's goal through 
the use of the Pilot Program is that there will be a better educated 
applicant, better customer service for the applicant and the seller of 
the farm, more efficient loan approval process for the loan officer and 
a more successful farm borrower. The agency will review the outcome of 
the Pilot Program to determine if this is a cost effective approach 
that leads to greater borrower success. A successful Pilot Program may 
lead to a broader use of this approach with other universities or with 
other applicants.
    FSA strongly encourages American Veterans who are seeking a career 
in agriculture to apply to for the Pilot Program. The most challenging 
barriers for new or beginning farmer or ranchers, including veterans 
who desire to enter into agriculture businesses, are access to both 
land and capital. Access to capital is not limited to the availability 
of credit, but also to the ability of an applicant to meet the 
eligibility requirements for either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan 
through the FO Program. This includes having the requisite managerial 
experience and ability to develop and present a viable business plan. 
By offering specific agricultural production and financial training, as 
well as hands on mentoring in the veteran's chosen area of agriculture, 
a conditional loan eligibility will be earned upon on the completion of 
the Pilot Program.
    FSA has found that veterans are very interested in starting a 
farming or ranching business, which led to developing the Pilot 
Program. Specifically, in response to the request for comments about 
farm loan pilot projects after the 2014 Farm Bill (79 FR 60805-60807, 
October 8, 2014), two of

[[Page 25641]]

the comments that FSA received focused specifically on helping 
veterans. One of those comments specifically recommended a pilot 
training program.
    Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program is already operating under the 
heading ``Battleground to Breaking Ground.'' FSA's Pilot Program 
expands on the existing program curriculum to prepare veterans for 
financing from FSA. The Pilot Program will be a combination of written 
course work offered online, an individual education plan that includes 
hands on agricultural production workshops, and mentorships. Upon 
conclusion of the course, a veteran will meet the business operation 
requirement as specified in 7 CFR 764.101 and 764.152 for eligibility 
up to 1 year sooner and will be considered conditionally eligible for 
either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan through FO Program.

Eligibility Information

    The applicant must meet the following eligibility requirements and 
will self-certify to the following when applying online for Texas A&M's 
Battleground to Breaking Ground program and provide additional 
documentation where specified below:
    1. The applicant is a veteran. After being selected for the Pilot 
Program, applicants will need certain documentation such as DD Form 
214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, or other 
military ID to verify veteran status to participate in the Pilot 
Program and to apply for either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan through 
the FO Program;
    2. The applicant meets all FSA farm loan program eligibility 
requirements under 7 CFR 764.101 and 764.152, except the farm 
experience requirement which will be expedited by the Pilot Program;
    3. The applicant is not ineligible for Federal benefits based on a 
conviction of any Federal or State controlled substance offense (see 7 
CFR 764.101(a));
    4. The applicant is of legal age, and has mental capacity and 
authority to enter into a legally binding agreement (see 7 CFR 
764.101(b));
    5. The applicant meets citizenship requirements (see 7 CFR 
764.101(c));
    6. The applicant provides a credit report from one of the three 
main credit reporting agencies at the time of orientation to the Pilot 
Program. If a history of failures to repay past debts as they came due 
was out of the control of the applicant, the applicant may wish to 
submit a written description of the circumstances for the consideration 
of the committee. Lack of credit history or isolated incidents of 
delinquent payments is not considered poor credit. Credit scores are 
not used to make a determination of credit worthiness (see 7 CFR 
764.101(d));
    7. The applicant has properly fulfilled prior obligations to other 
parties, including other agencies of the Federal Government (see 7 CFR 
764.101(d)(2));
    8. The applicant is unable to obtain sufficient credit elsewhere to 
finance actual needs at reasonable rates and terms. When the loan 
application is filed, FSA will evaluate the ability to obtain credit 
based on factors including, but not limited to:
    a. Loan amounts, rates, and terms available in the marketplace; and
    b. Property interests, income, and significant non-essential assets 
(see 7 CFR 764.101(e));
    9. The applicant meets the unpaid Federal judgement and delinquent 
Federal debt requirements in 7 CFR 764.101(f) and (g);
    10. The applicant meets the Federal Crop Insurance Violations 
requirements in 7 CFR 764.101(h); and
    11. The applicant meets the prior debt forgiveness requirements in 
7 CFR 764.152(b).

Application and Submission Information

    Each veteran must complete an electronic application for the 
Battleground to Breaking Ground Program through Texas A&M's website, 
http://txagrability.tamu.edu/. In addition, in order to participate in 
the Pilot Program, the applicant must self-certify to the eligibility 
requirements discussed above and provided at the Texas A&M website. The 
application period will open June 15, 2018, and close on July 20, 2018 
no later than 11 p.m. CST. No applications will be accepted after the 
due date.

Application Review Information

    Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program employees will score and rank 
the ``Battlefield to Breaking Ground'' applications using the Texas A&M 
AgriLife Extension program matrix. FSA will look at the top ranked 
applicants from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program scoring and 
will select, in order of ranking, the top 15 to 18 applications. FSA 
will then confirm eligibility on the selected applications for 
participation in the Pilot Program. In the case of a tied score for the 
Pilot Program selection, FSA will review the applicant's narrative 
addressing the applicant's readiness to farm to make a selection. The 
readiness to farm question is part of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension 
program application. Applicants not selected for the Pilot Program due 
to FSA's loan eligibility criteria will still have the option to 
participate in the ``Battleground to Breaking Ground'' program at the 
discretion of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program. Texas A&M AgriLife 
Extension program will notify all applicants by email.
    Applicants will not be considered a participant in the Pilot 
Program until after they have signed an expectation agreement supplied 
by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program as part of its existing 
veterans ``Battleground to Breaking Ground'' program. The expectation 
agreement specifies the requirements for completion of the 
``Battleground to Breaking Ground'' program.

Program Completion

    Successful completion of the Pilot Program will result in the 
veteran receiving a certificate from FSA as well as a developed 
business plan. Successful completion will also result in the veteran 
being conditionally eligible for either a Microloan or Downpayment Loan 
through the FO Program. The veteran should apply for the loan within 2 
years of successfully completing the Pilot Program, unless the business 
plan is based on a later start date.
    Participants who do not complete the Pilot Program may not be 
considered conditionally eligible for either a Microloan or Downpayment 
Loan through the FO Program.

Other Provisions

    In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of 
Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its 
Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or 
administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on 
race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including 
gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital 
status, family or parental status, income derived from a public 
assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for 
prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or 
funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and 
complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident.
    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of 
communication should contact the USDA Target Center at (202) 720-2600 
(voice). Additionally, program information may be made available in 
languages other than English.

[[Page 25642]]

    To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA 
Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at https://www.ascr.usda.gov/filing-program-discrimination-complaint-usda-customer, and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA 
and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. 
To request a copy of the complaint form, you may call (866) 632-9992. 
You may submit your completed form or letter to any of the following 
options:
     Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the 
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, 
Washington, DC 20250-9410;
     Fax: (202) 690-7442; or
     Email: [email protected].
    USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Richard Fordyce,
Administrator, Farm Service Agency.
[FR Doc. 2018-11873 Filed 6-1-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3410-05-P