Inviting Applications for Agriculture Innovation Demonstration Center Grants, 55274-55282 [2019-22551]

Download as PDF 55274 Notices Federal Register Vol. 84, No. 200 Wednesday, October 16, 2019 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 Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS–2018–0011] Notice of Determination; Changes to the Chronic Wasting Disease Herd Certification Program Standards Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: We are updating the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Herd Certification Program Standards. In a previous notice, we made available to the public for review and comment proposed changes to the CWD Program Standards to provide guidance on how to meet CWD Herd Certification Program and interstate movement requirements. SUMMARY: The updated program standards became available on May 20, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Tracy Nichols, Staff Officer, Cervid Health Team, Surveillance, Preparedness, and Response Services, VS, APHIS, USDA, 2150 Centre Avenue, Bldg. B, Fort Collins, CO 80526; (970) 494–7380. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy of cervids (members of Cervidae, the deer family). Species currently known to be susceptible to CWD include elk, mule deer, moose, white-tailed deer, sika deer, muntjac, reindeer, and black-tailed deer. In 2014, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) implemented the National CWD Herd Certification Program (HCP), a voluntary Federal-State-industry cooperative program administered by APHIS and implemented by participating States. Currently, 28 States participate in the program. States and herd owners khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES DATES: VerDate Sep<11>2014 20:55 Oct 15, 2019 Jkt 250001 choosing to participate must comply with the provisions of 9 CFR parts 55 and 81 (referred to below as the regulations), which include requirements for animal identification, interstate movement, fencing, recordkeeping, herd inspections and inventories, animal mortality testing, and response to any findings of CWDexposed, -suspect, or -positive herds. APHIS monitors the approved State HCPs to ensure consistency with Federal standards by means of annual State reporting. With each year of successful surveillance, participating herds will advance in status. After 5 years with no evidence of CWD, APHIS will certify the herd for CWD. Only captive cervids from certified herds for CWD may move interstate. On March 29, 2018, we published in the Federal Register (83 FR 13469– 13470, Docket No. APHIS–2018–0011) a notice of availability of a revised version of the CWD Herd Certification Program Standards. These standards provide guidance on how to meet the program and interstate movement requirements referenced above. The proposed revisions addressed concerns of State and industry participants about the existing standards. We solicited comments on the CWD Herd Certification Program Standards for 30 days ending on April 30, 2018. We extended the deadline for comments until May 30, 2018, in a document published in the Federal Register on April 26, 2018 (83 FR 18264, Docket No. APHIS–2018–0011).1 We received 334 comments by that date. They were from producers, industry groups, representatives of State governments, and private citizens. We received a number of comments on the content of the regulations themselves and not on the specifics of the revised CWD Program Standards. As the notice only served to alert the public of the availability of that document for review and comment, any comments focusing on the regulations themselves are outside the scope of the request for comment and will not be addressed. The remaining comments provided valuable insight into stakeholder concerns and priorities. 1 To view the notice, the CWD Herd Certification Standards, and the comments we received, go to https://www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2018-0011. PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 After reviewing the comments, where practicable and within the bounds of our authority, we made changes to the CWD Program Standards in order to address commenter concerns while maintaining program integrity. The revisions cover a variety of topics including: Adding guidelines for live animal testing in specific situations; clarifying how disease investigations should be handled; aligning with the regulatory requirement for mortality testing; simplifying fencing requirements; adding biosecurity recommendations; and describing the Agency’s intended approach to update the CWD-susceptible species list. We also outline factors for determining indemnity and include a table with possible reductions in herd certification status that States may consider for herd owners that do not submit required mortality surveillance samples or consistently submit unusable testing samples. The revised CWD Program Standards are in effect and may be found on the internet at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/ aphis/newsroom/stakeholder-info/sa_ by_date/2019/sa-05/cwd-standards. Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs designated this action as a non-major rule, as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2). Done in Washington, DC, this 9th day of October 2019. Kevin Shea, Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. [FR Doc. 2019–22453 Filed 10–15–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–34–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Business-Cooperative Service Inviting Applications for Agriculture Innovation Demonstration Center Grants Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: This Notice announces that the Rural Business-Cooperative Service (Agency) is accepting fiscal year (FY) 2019 applications for the Agriculture Innovation Demonstration Center (AIC) program. In FY 2019, the program has $3,500,000 available for funding. If SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\16OCN1.SGM 16OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 200 / Wednesday, October 16, 2019 / Notices additional funds are appropriated during fiscal year 2020 prior to the selection of awards, funding amounts will be posted on the Agency website and we will utilize those additional FY 2020 funds to make awards under this Notice. The purpose of this program is to establish and operate Agriculture Innovation Centers (Centers) that provide technical and business development assistance to agricultural producers seeking to engage in the marketing or the production of ValueAdded products. Eligible applicants include nonprofit and for-profit corporations, public bodies, and institutions of higher education. This program supports Rural Development’s (RD) mission of improving the quality of life for rural Americans and commitment to directing resources to those who most need them. DATES: Completed applications for grants must be submitted electronically by no later than midnight Eastern Time, March 20, 2020, through Grants.gov. Late applications are not eligible for funding under this Notice and will not be evaluated. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gail Thuner, Grants Division, Cooperative Programs, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, United States Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, MS 3253, Room 4208-South, Washington, DC 20250–3250, or call 202–690–1374, or email cpgrants@ wdc.usda.gov. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Preface The Agency encourages applications that will support recommendations made in the Rural Prosperity Task Force report to help improve life in rural America. For more information, see www.usda.gov/ruralprosperity. Applicants are encouraged to consider projects that provide measurable results in helping rural communities build robust and sustainable economies through strategic investments in infrastructure, partnerships and innovation. Key strategies include: • Achieving e-Connectivity for Rural America • Developing the Rural Economy • Harnessing Technical Innovation • Supporting a Rural Workforce • Improving Quality of Life Overview Federal Agency Name: USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Funding Opportunity Title: Agriculture Innovation Demonstration Center. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Oct 15, 2019 Jkt 250001 Announcement Type: Initial Notice. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number: 10.377. Dates: Application Deadline. Your application must be received by https:// www.grants.gov no later than midnight Eastern Time, March 20, 2020, or it will not be considered for funding. Paperwork Reduction Act In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, the paperwork burden associated with this Notice has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control Number 0570–0045. A. Program Description The AIC program is authorized by section 7608 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 1632b) and is implemented by 7 CFR 4284 subparts A and K which are incorporated by reference into this Notice. The primary objective of the AIC program is to provide technical assistance to agricultural producers to market value-added agricultural products through Centers. Grants are available to public bodies, institutions of higher education, nonprofit corporations, and for-profit corporations. It is expected that recipients will establish and operate independently-governed Centers whose boards of directors meet the representation requirements described in Section D.2(j) of this Notice. Definitions The terms you need to understand are defined and published at 7 CFR 4284.3 and 7 CFR 4284.1004. The term ‘‘you’’ referenced throughout this Notice should be understood to mean ‘‘you’’ the applicant. Finally, as required by 2 CFR 200.112, we have defined our Conflict of Interest policy as follows. Conflict of Interest—A situation in which a person or entity has competing personal, professional, or financial interests that make it difficult for the person or business to act impartially. Federal procurement standards prohibit transactions that involve a real or apparent conflict of interest for owners, employees, officers, agents, or their immediate family members having a financial or other interest in the outcome of the project; or that restrict open and free competition for unrestrained trade. Specifically, neither grant nor matching funds may be used for services or goods going to, or coming from, a person or entity with a real or apparent conflict of interest, including, but not limited to, owner(s) and their immediate family members. Examples of conflicts of interest include using PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 55275 grant or matching funds to pay a member of the applicant’s board of directors to provide Producer Services and using grant or matching funds to pay an immediate family member of the applicant to provide Producer Services. B. Federal Award Information Type of Award: Competitive Grant. Fiscal Year Funds: FY 2019. Total Funding: $3,500,000. Minimum Award: $500,000. Maximum Award: $1,000,000. Project Period: 2 years. Anticipated Award Date: September 15, 2020. C. Eligibility Information You must meet all of the following eligibility requirements. Applicants and/or applications which fail to meet any of these requirements by the application deadline will not be evaluated further or considered for funding. 1. Eligible Applicants. Grants may be made to public bodies (including local governments, State governments, and Federally-Recognized Tribes), institutions of higher education, nonprofit corporations, and for-profit corporations. (a) An applicant is ineligible if they have been debarred or suspended or otherwise excluded from or ineligible for participation in Federal assistance programs under Executive Order 12549, ‘‘Debarment and Suspension.’’ In addition, an applicant will be considered ineligible for a grant due to an outstanding judgment obtained by the U.S. in a Federal Court (other than U.S. Tax Court), is delinquent on the payment of Federal income taxes, or is delinquent on Federal debt. The applicant must certify as part of the application that they do not have an outstanding judgment against them. The Agency will check the Do Not Pay system to verify the certification. (See also Section D.2.f of this Notice.) (b) Any corporation (i) that has been convicted of a felony criminal violation under any Federal law within the past 24 months or (ii) that has any unpaid Federal tax liability that has been assessed, for which all judicial and administrative remedies have been exhausted or have lapsed, and that is not being paid in a timely manner pursuant to an agreement with the authority responsible for collecting the tax liability, is not eligible for financial assistance provided with funds appropriated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 (Pub. L. 116– 6), unless a Federal agency has considered suspension or debarment of the corporation and has made a E:\FR\FM\16OCN1.SGM 16OCN1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 55276 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 200 / Wednesday, October 16, 2019 / Notices determination that this further action is not necessary to protect the interests of the Government. (See also Section D.2.e of this Notice.) 2. Cost Sharing or Matching. Matching funds are required for at least one-third of the total project budget. For example, if the total project budget is $300,000, matching funds must be at least $100,000. Matching funds may be provided in cash by the applicant or a third party or in-kind by a third party. They must be available for use during the period of performance, and they must be used for allowable expenses. (See also Section D.2.j of this Notice.) 3. Other Eligibility Requirements. Independent Governance: The Center must be independently governed, although it does not have to be a separate legal entity from the applicant organization. If the applicant is a parent organization or institution of higher education, you must demonstrate that there is a separate Board of Directors for the Center and that the Center has independent governance. We consider the Center to have independent governance if it has control over personnel decisions, including hiring and firing employees and contractors; setting policies and procedures, including personnel and procurement; developing and approving its budget; and selecting its own Board of Directors, which shall not include any members who are affiliated with the parent organization. (See also Section D.2.k of this Notice.) Qualified Board of Directors: The Board of Directors for the Center must include, but is not limited to, representatives from each of the following groups: (1) Two general agricultural organizations with the greatest number of members in the State in which the Center is located, (2) the department of agriculture, or similar State department or agency or a State legislator, of the State in which the Center is located, and (3) four entities representing different commodities produced in the State in which the Center is located. Note that no representative may represent more than one group or organization. Board of Director members must not have any Conflicts of Interest. (See also Section D.2.l of this Notice.) Existing Capability to Provide Services: You must be able to demonstrate that you have previously provided services similar to the Producer Services defined in 7 CFR 4284.1004 or that you have the capability to provide those services. In order to be considered qualified, you must either demonstrate at least three years of experience providing the same VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Oct 15, 2019 Jkt 250001 type of Producer Services as those proposed in the application and show a record of at least three positive outcomes or you must demonstrate that you currently have key personnel assigned to the project who have the same level of experience and positive outcomes, even if they have not worked for you for at least three years. (See also Section D.2.m of this Notice.) Support of Agricultural Community: You must demonstrate that at least three relevant agricultural organizations support your project. We will consider the support to be relevant if the supporting organization is based in the State or region in which the project will take place and if the organization serves the same group of producers (either directly or through commodity/ marketing efforts) targeted by the proposed project. (See also Section D.2.n of this Notice.) Improving Value-Added Markets: Your project must focus on increasing and improving the ability of local agricultural producers to develop markets and processes for Value-Added agricultural commodities or products. (See also D.2.s of this Notice.) Use of Funds: You must propose to engage in one or more of the following activities during the project period: • Consulting services for legal, accounting, and technical services to be used by the recipient for the purpose of establishing and operating the Center; • Hiring employees for the purpose of establishing and operating the Center; • Making grants to agricultural producers, individually not to exceed $5,000, where the aggregate amount of all such grants does not exceed $50,000. Note that these grants are considered subawards and all Federal requirements that apply to awards made under this Notice also apply to these subawards, including the Matching Funds requirement. • Producer Services (as defined at 7 CFR 4284.1004); • Applied research; and • Legal services. For information on selected items that are not allowable for funding under this Notice, please review section D (6) of this Notice, ‘‘Funding Restrictions.’’ Period of Performance. The proposed period of performance must be two years or less or the application will not be considered for funding. Note that in the future, any recipients that have already received funding through this program will be limited to one-year project periods while new recipients will be allowed up to two years. This difference in time is to allow new recipients additional time for start-up activities. The proposed start date must PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 be no earlier than three months after the expected award date and no later than six months after the expected award date. Extensions may be approved on a case-by-case basis at our discretion if circumstances beyond the recipient’s control cause a significant delay in the performance of the award. However, in no case, will we approve a period of performance (including any extension period) for longer than two years. Satisfactory Performance. We will check the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System as well as the Do Not Pay system prior to awarding funds. If you have deficiencies identified in either system, we may either discontinue processing your application if the deficiencies are significant or indicate a lack of capability to accomplish the proposed project or we may impose special conditions to address the deficiencies. Special conditions may include, but are not limited to, more frequent reporting, more detailed reporting, and the addition of benchmarks or checkpoints to assess progress. Financial Capability. We will assess the last three years of your financial statements and your most recent audit to confirm that you possess sufficient financial capabilities for the proposed project. In particular, you must have a current ratio of at least 1:1 and the ability to provide sufficient cash flow to cover at least three months of total project costs to account for the lag between when expenses are incurred, and award funds are disbursed. If you do not meet these requirements, you are not eligible for funding. We will also evaluate your operating expense ratio and the sustainability of your revenue sources, and if we determine that your financial capability would preclude you from properly managing Federal funds, your organization will not be eligible for an award. We may also identify any concerns that might require special conditions if an award is made. (See also Section D.2.h.) Application Completeness: Your application must provide all the information requested in Section D.2 of this Notice. Applications lacking sufficient information to determine eligibility and scoring will not be considered for funding. No Duplication of Current Services. Your application must demonstrate that you are providing services to new customers or new services to current customers. (See also Section D.2.s of this Notice.) Number of Applications. You may only submit one application in response to this Notice. E:\FR\FM\16OCN1.SGM 16OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 200 / Wednesday, October 16, 2019 / Notices Collaboration, Contracts, and Subawards. While we support collaboration between and among Centers, you must limit any contracts or subawards with other Centers to 10% or less of project costs. We consider collaboration to occur when two or more Centers work jointly on an activity, but each Center controls its own budget for its involvement. Any collaboration with other Centers must be identified in the proposed Work Plan. D. Application and Submission Information khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 1. Address To Request Application Package The application template for applying for this funding opportunity is located at https://www.rd.usda.gov/programsservices/agriculture-innovation-centerprogram. Use of the application template is strongly recommended to assist you with the application process. 2. Content and Form of Application Submission Your application must be submitted electronically through Grants.gov. Your application must contain all required information. You must follow the instructions for this funding announcement at https:// www.grants.gov. Note that we cannot accept applications through mail or courier delivery, in-person delivery, email, or fax. You can locate the Grants.gov downloadable application package for this program by using a keyword, the program name, or the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number for this program. When you enter the Grants.gov website, you will find information about applying electronically through the site, as well as the hours of operation. We have included additional information about how to register and use the Grants.gov website in our Application Guide. To use Grants.gov, you must already have a DUNS number and you must also be registered and maintain registration in SAM. We strongly recommend that you do not wait until the application deadline date to begin the application process through Grants.gov because it can take up to four weeks to complete the registration process. You must submit all application documents electronically through Grants.gov. Applications must include electronic signatures. Original signatures may be required if funds are awarded. After applying electronically through Grants.gov, you will receive an VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Oct 15, 2019 Jkt 250001 automatic acknowledgement from Grants.gov that contains a Grants.gov tracking number. Your application must contain the following required forms and other components: (a) Standard Form SF–424, ‘‘Application for Federal Assistance,’’ to include your DUNS number and SAM Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code and expiration date. If you do not include your DUNS number and your CAGE code or your DUNS number or Cage code is inactive or expired, we will not consider your application for funding. (b) Form SF–424A, ‘‘Budget Information-Non-Construction Programs.’’ This form must be completed and submitted as part of the application package. (c) Form SF–424B, ‘‘Assurances— Non-Construction Programs.’’ This form must be completed, signed, and submitted as part of the application package. (d) Form AD–3030, ‘‘Representations Regarding Felony Conviction and Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants,’’ if you are a corporation. A corporation is any entity that has filed articles of incorporation in one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the various territories of the United States including American Samoa, Guam, Midway Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Corporations include both for profit and non-profit entities. Institutions of higher education are not required to submit this form. (e) You must certify that there are no current outstanding Federal judgments against your property and that you will not use grant funds to pay for any judgment obtained by the United States. You must also certify that you are not delinquent on the payment of Federal income taxes, or any Federal debt. To satisfy the Certification requirement, you must include this statement in your application: ‘‘[INSERT NAME OF APPLICANT] certifies that the United States has not obtained an unsatisfied judgment against its property, is not delinquent on the payment of Federal income taxes, or any Federal debt, and will not use grant funds to pay any judgments obtained by the United States.’’ A separate signature is not required. (f) Certification on Lobbying. Your authorized representative must sign a certification which contains the entire statement from 2 CFR part 418, Appendix A. PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 55277 (g) Financial Capability. You must include the last three years of your financial statements (balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements) and your most recent audit (including the Letter to the Managers). (h) Applicant Eligibility. You must verify your legal status and demonstrate your eligibility for the program. • Public bodies must provide information regarding their authorization. • Non-profit and for-profit corporations must submit the State’s Certificate of Good Standing and your Articles of Incorporation. You may also submit your Bylaws if they provide additional information not included in your Articles of Incorporation that will help verify your legal status. • Institutions of Higher Education must demonstrate that you qualify as an Institution of Higher Education as defined at 20 U.S.C. 1001. (i) Verification of Matching Funds. Matching funds must be provided for at least one-third of the total project cost. For example, if your total project cost is $300,000, you must provide at least $100,000 in matching funds. Matching funds can be provided in cash by the applicant organization or a third-party. They can also be provided in-kind by a third-party organization. You must verify the amount of funds to be contributed, the source of the funds, the availability of the funds, and the purpose for which the funds will be used. All verification must be done on an organization’s letterhead and be signed by the organization’s authorized representative. (j) Governance Structure of the Center. The Center does not need to be an independent legal entity; however, it must be independently governed. You must provide an explanation of how the governance of the Center works (or will work if it hasn’t been established at the time of application). In particular, you must address how the Center carries out personnel decisions, including hiring and firing employees and contractors; sets its policies and procedures, including personnel and procurement; develops and approves its budget; and selects its own Board of Directors. (k) Board of Directors. You must provide the following information: For the representatives from the two organizations with the greatest number of members in your State, you must identify the representatives, the organization, its purpose, and the number of members it has in your State. The purpose must focus on agriculture in general; it cannot be restricted to a specific group, commodity, or sector. The membership of the organization E:\FR\FM\16OCN1.SGM 16OCN1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 55278 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 200 / Wednesday, October 16, 2019 / Notices does not need to be restricted to your State. You must also explain how you determined that it had the most (or second most) members. Acceptable sources for this information can include the state Department of Agriculture, or its equivalent, or a third-party, reliable source, such as a trade journal or university agriculture department. For the representative from the State department of agriculture (or equivalent) or State legislator, you must identify the representative and include the person’s title and job responsibility if from the Department of Agriculture or identify the district the State legislator represents. For representatives from entities representing four commodities, you must identify each representative and the entity they represent. You must use data from State Department of Agriculture, or its equivalent, to demonstrate that the commodities are produced in your state and provide a copy of the information used. You must also submit a signed statement from each representative stating that they either are currently on the Center’s Board of Directors or that they commit to being on the Center’s Board of Directors during the proposed period of performance. If your application is selected for funding, we will confirm the Board of Directors still meets the requirements. If at any time, the Center’s Board of Directors does not meet the requirements during the period of performance, the award will either be suspended until the requirements can be met or it will be terminated if the requirements can no longer be met. (l) Existing Capability to Provide Services. The applicant organization must be able to demonstrate that it has previously provided services similar to the Producer Services defined in 7 CFR 4284.1004 or that it has the capability to provide those services. In order to be considered qualified, the applicant organization must either demonstrate at least three years of experience providing the same type of Producer Services as those proposed in the application and show a record of at least three positive outcomes or the applicant organization must demonstrate that it currently has key personnel assigned to the project who have the same level of experience and positive outcomes, even if they have not worked for the organization for at least three years. You must explain your role or your key personnel’s role in the project and identify the organization that you worked with. Note that examples of positive outcomes include assisting a business with incorporation and assisting a business with expanding VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Oct 15, 2019 Jkt 250001 its operation in terms of additional staff or additional products marketed. It can also mean working with an organization and determining that going forward with a proposed project is not feasible. To demonstrate previously providing services, you must include a chart or narrative that describes the services provided during the last three years. The description must include the specific type of service provided, how many times it has been provided, and the outcomes of the services provided (preferably with quantitative measurements). To demonstrate current capability when the applicant has not previously provided Producer Services, the applicant must provide a narrative that describes the key personnel’s experience with providing Producer Services. The narrative must include a description of the services provided, how many times it has been provided, and the outcomes of the services provided (preferably with quantitative measurements). We will assess the capability of each applicant organization based only on what is submitted with the application. (m) Support of the Agricultural Community. You must include at least three letters of support from agricultural organizations, other than the applicant organization, that are relevant to the project. Evidence of support includes contributions of cash or in-kind matching funds. Other examples of support include referring clients and intent to collaborate. We will consider the support to be relevant if the organization is based in the State or region in which the project will take place and if the organization serves the same group of producers (either directly or through commodity/marketing efforts) targeted by the proposed project. (n) Title Page. Your application must contain a Title Page. It is recommended that your Title Page include a short title for your proposed project as well as contact information or other application identifying information. (o) Table of Contents. Your application must contain a detailed Table of Contents (TOC). The TOC must include page numbers for each part of the application, including each evaluation criterion. Page numbers should begin immediately following the TOC. (p) Executive Summary. A summary of the proposal, not to exceed one page, must briefly describe the Project, tasks to be completed, and other relevant information that provides a general overview of the Project. (q) Goals of the Project. You must include a listing of each Producer Service to be offered during the project. PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 You must also identify one or more specific goals relating to increasing and improving the ability of identified local agricultural producers to develop a market or process for Value-Added agricultural commodities or products. (r) Work Plan. You must include a description of your proposed work for the project, including how your project focuses on increasing and improving the ability of local agricultural producers to develop markets and processes for Value-Added agricultural commodities or products. This description must include the actions that will be taken in order for the Producer Services to be available from the Center. Each action should include a target date for completion. General start-up tasks should be listed, followed by specific tasks listed for each Producer Service to be offered. Tasks associated with the start-up of the Center should include a focused marketing and delivery plan directed at the local agricultural producers that were identified in the Goals section of your application. The actions to be taken should include steps for identifying customers, hiring key personnel (if not already hired), contracting for services for the Center, and making arrangements for strategic alliances. Each defined task needs to have a description, assigned key personnel, and an expected time frame for accomplishment. You must also clearly demonstrate how your project will provide services to new customers or provide new services to existing customers. (s) Budget Justification. You must provide additional information regarding the budget you submit on the SF–424A, including your matching funds. This additional information should describe each category of expense and what specific costs are included in each category as well as how your Matching Funds will be used. For example, the Salaries justification should include the names of each staff member (not just key personnel) who will be paid and how much they will be paid. The Fringe Benefits category should include a description of how fringe benefits are calculated and what is included. The Contracts category should identify the contractors by name (if known) as well as the amounts expected for each contract and the purpose of each contract. The Other category should include the expected expenses (e.g. supplies) that will be included. The Travel category should identify specific trips that will be taken, who will be traveling, and the reason for the travel. Additionally, if there are any unusual expenses, you should describe E:\FR\FM\16OCN1.SGM 16OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 200 / Wednesday, October 16, 2019 / Notices them and why they are appropriate for the award. (t) Scoring Criteria. Each of the scoring criteria in this Notice must be addressed in narrative form, with a maximum of three pages for each individual scoring criterion, unless otherwise specified. Failure to address each scoring criteria will result in the application being determined ineligible. (u) Strategic Coordination and Alliances. Describe arrangements in place or planned with end users (for example, processing and distribution companies and regional grocers) as well as with entities that have technical research capabilities, broad support from the agricultural community in the State or region, significant coordination with end users, strategic alliances with entities having technical research capabilities and a focused delivery plan for reaching out to the producer community. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 3. DUNS Number and SAM To be eligible, you are required to: (a) Provide a valid DUNS number in your application, which can be obtained at no cost via a toll-free request line at (866) 705–5711 or at https:// fedgov.dnb.com/webform.; (b) Register in SAM before submitting your application. You may register in SAM at no cost at https://www.sam.gov/ SAM/. You must provide your SAM CAGE Code and expiration date; and (c) Continue to maintain an active SAM registration with current information at all times during which you have an active Federal award or an application or plan under consideration by a Federal awarding agency. If you have not fully complied with all applicable DUNS and SAM requirements, the Agency may determine that the applicant is not qualified to receive a Federal award and the Agency may use that determination as a basis for making an award to another applicant. Please refer to Section F. 2 for additional submission requirements that apply to grantees selected for this program. 4. Submission Dates and Times Application Deadline Date: March 20, 2020. Explanation of Deadlines: Applications must be RECEIVED by https://www.grants.gov by midnight Eastern Time March 20, 2020, to be eligible for funding. Please review the Grants.gov website at https://grants.gov/ applicants/organization_registration.jsp for instructions on the process of registering your organization as soon as possible to ensure you can meet the electronic application deadline. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Oct 15, 2019 Jkt 250001 Grants.gov will not accept applications submitted after the deadline. 5. Intergovernmental Review Executive Order (E.O.) 12372, ‘‘Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs,’’ applies to this program. This E.O. requires that Federal agencies provide opportunities for consultation on proposed assistance with State and local governments. Many States have established a Single Point of Contact (SPOC) to facilitate this consultation. For a list of States that maintain a SPOC, please see the White House website: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wpcontent/uploads/2017/11/SPOC-Feb.2018.pdf. If your State has a SPOC, you may submit a copy of the application directly for review. Any comments obtained through the SPOC must be provided to us for consideration as part of your application. If your State has not established a SPOC, or if you do not want to submit a copy of the application, we will submit your application to the SPOC or other appropriate agency or agencies. 6. Funding Restrictions Grant funds must be used for Technical Assistance. No funds made available under this solicitation shall be used to: (a) Plan, repair, rehabilitate, acquire, or construct a building or facility, including a processing facility; (b) Purchase, rent, or install fixed equipment, including processing equipment; (c) Purchase vehicles, including boats; (d) Pay for the preparation of the grant application; (e) Pay expenses not directly related to the funded Project; (f) Fund political or lobbying activities; (g) Fund any activities considered unallowable by the applicable grant cost principles, including 2 CFR part 200, subpart E and the Federal Acquisition Regulation; (h) Fund architectural work for a specific physical facility; (i) Fund any direct expenses for the production of any commodity or product to which value will be added, including seed, rootstock, labor for harvesting the crop, and delivery of the commodity to a processing facility; (j) Purchase land; (k) Duplicate current activities or activities paid for by another Federal grant program; (l) Pay costs of the Project incurred prior to the date of award approval; (m) Pay for assistance to any private business enterprise that does not have at least 51 percent ownership by those PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 55279 who are either citizens of the United States or reside in the United States after being legally admitted for permanent residence; (n) Pay any judgment or debt owed to the United States; or (o) Pay for any goods or services from a person who has a Conflict of Interest with the recipient. In addition, your application will not be considered for funding if it does any of the following: • Requests more than the maximum grant amount; • Focuses assistance on only one agriculture producer; or • Proposes ineligible costs that equal more than 10 percent of total grant funds requested. We will consider your application for funding if it includes ineligible costs of 10 percent or less of total grant funds requested, if it is determined eligible otherwise. However, if your application is successful, those ineligible costs must be removed and replaced with eligible costs before the Agency will make the grant award or the amount of the grant award will be reduced accordingly. If we cannot determine the percentage of ineligible costs, your application will not be considered for funding. 7. Other Submission Requirements (a) National Environmental Policy Act. This Notice has been reviewed in accordance with 7 CFR part 1970, ‘‘Environmental Policies and Procedures.’’ We have determined that an Environmental Impact Statement is not required because the issuance of regulations and instructions, as well as amendments to them, describing administrative and financial procedures for processing, approving, and implementing the Agency’s financial programs is categorically excluded in the Agency’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulation found at 7 CFR 1970.53(f). We have determined that this Notice does not constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. The Agency will review each grant application to determine its compliance with 7 CFR part 1970. The applicant may be asked to provide additional information or documentation to assist the Agency with this determination. (b) Civil Rights Compliance Requirements. All grants made under this Notice are subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as required by the USDA (7 CFR part 15, subpart A) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. E:\FR\FM\16OCN1.SGM 16OCN1 55280 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 200 / Wednesday, October 16, 2019 / Notices E. Application Review Information We will review applications to determine if they are eligible for assistance based on requirements in this Notice, and other applicable Federal laws and regulations. If we determine that your application is eligible for assistance, your application will be scored by a panel of USDA employees based on the Scoring Criteria specified in this Notice. The highest scoring application will be funded up to the maximum amount available. Additional applications that cannot be fully funded may be offered partial funding at the Agency’s discretion. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 1. Scoring Criteria All eligible and complete applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria. Evaluators will base scores only on the information provided in the application. This is a competitive program, so you will receive scores based on the quality of the information provided. Simply addressing the criteria will not guarantee higher scores. The total points possible for the criteria are 80. (a) Ability to Deliver (maximum score of 15 points). The application will be evaluated as to whether it evidences unique abilities to deliver Producer Services so as to create sustainable Value-Added ventures. Abilities that are transferable to a wide range of agricultural Value-Added commodities are preferred over highly specialized skills. Strong skills must be accompanied by a credible and thoughtful plan. Points will be awarded as follows: (i) 0 points will be awarded if you do not substantively address the criterion. (ii) 1–4 points will be awarded for unique abilities, that is, abilities that are not available through other organizations in the Center’s service area. (iii) 1–4 points will be awarded for the expected sustainability of the ValueAdded ventures supported by the project. For example, applications that propose to work with ventures where the expected sustainability has been assessed will receive more points than applications that do not address expected sustainability. By sustainability, we mean that the venture assisted will generate wealth (e.g. if the project adds retained earnings to the balance sheet, not just an increase in cash flow). (iv) 1–4 points will be awarded for the transferability of the abilities identified. Abilities that are transferable to a wide range of commodities will receive more points. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Oct 15, 2019 Jkt 250001 (v) 1–3 points will be awarded for plans to accomplish work that are thoughtful and seem reasonable. For example, do the services the Center will provide match the stated goals (from Section D.2.q). Are the results measurable and attainable within the proposed project period? (b) Successful Track Record (maximum score of 15 points). The applicant organization’s track record in achieving Value-Added successes will be evaluated. Points will be awarded as follows: (i) 0 points will be awarded if you do not substantively address the criterion. (ii) 1–3 points will be awarded if the applicant has more than three years of experience in accomplishing ValueAdded successes. More points will be given for more years of experience, based on the distribution of what all eligible applicants submit. No credit will be given for activities that did not directly result in a Value-Added success. Note that we consider a success to include working with an organization and providing coaching to indicate that the proposed venture is not feasible. (iii) 1–4 points will be awarded based on the number of Value-Added successes. More points will be given for higher numbers, based on the distribution of what eligible applicants submit. (iv) 1–4 points will be awarded based on the significance of Value-Added successes. More points will be given for more significant successes, based on the distribution of what eligible applicants submit. (v) 1–4 points will be awarded based on the complexity of the role that the applicant organization played in the Value-Added successes. (c) Work Plan/Budget (maximum of 15 points). We will review the work plan for detailed actions and an accompanying timetable for implementing the proposed work. We will review budgets for completeness and the strength of non-Federal funding commitments. Note that there is no additional information required for this criterion. We will use the Work Plan and Budget Justification for our evaluation. Points will be awarded as follows: (i) 0 points will be awarded if you do not substantively address this criterion. (ii) 1–6 points will be awarded for work plans that describe each task, including objectives and potential outcomes, and how that task connects to the goal of the project. More points will be awarded for work plans that completely describe tasks and show measurable outcomes as well as for work plans that show a cohesive plan PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 for the achievement of the goal(s) of the project. (iii) 1–3 points will be awarded for work plans that show a reasonable and differentiated timetable for the proposed tasks. For example, a work plan that shows a schedule for how a Center will begin operation, then market its services, and then provide its services would be awarded more points that a work plan that simply states all Producer Services will be offered for 12 months. We will also consider how you will identify customers. Applications with a specific description of customer identification will receive more points. (iv) 1–3 points will be awarded for the budget justification. More points will be awarded for justifications that completely describe all categories of cost, including indirect costs. We consider that a complete description includes identification of key personnel (including any contractors) and the salaries and fringe benefits associated with their time on the project as well as identification of all travel events (including who will be traveling and what the purpose of the trip is), individual contract amounts and purposes, and items that are categorized, such as computers, printers, scanners, copiers, and other office items. (v) 1–3 points will be awarded for higher quality matching funds. We consider cash match to be of higher quality than in-kind. Thus, we will award more points for applications that have a larger percentage of matching funds coming from cash, based on the distribution of what is submitted by applicants. (d) Qualifications of Key Personnel (maximum of 15 points). Describe the qualifications of the key personnel for the project. Key personnel may include employees of the Center or consultants/ contractors, but they do not include administrative or financial staff whose purpose is to support the administrative requirements of the award. Your description should include the number of years of experience that a person has doing the type of work that will be assigned during the project as well as metrics indicating the number of times the person has provided the assistance and the outcomes of that assistance. You must also include the total hours that will be contributed to the project by each person. Points will be awarded as follows: (i) 0 points will be awarded if you do not adequately address this criterion. (ii) 1–5 points based on the percentage of work that will be carried out by Center employees. We will calculate the percentage by adding the E:\FR\FM\16OCN1.SGM 16OCN1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 200 / Wednesday, October 16, 2019 / Notices hours of the key personnel and dividing the number of hours from Center employees by the total hours. a. 1 point for 10–20% of the work carried out by Center employees; b. 2 points for 21–40% of the work carried out by Center employees; c. 3 points for 41–60% of the work carried out by Center employees; d. 4 points for 61–80% of the work carried out by Center employees; and e. 5 points for 81–100% of the work carried out by Center employees. (iii) 1–10 points based on the qualifications of the key personnel. More points will be awarded in cases where the key personnel are assigned to specific tasks that match their experience and skills. (e) Local support (maximum of 4 points). You must show that the Center has local support from and coordination with other developmental organizations in the proposed service area and with tribal, state, and local institutions. Support documentation should include recognition of rural values that balance employment opportunities with environmental stewardship and other rural amenities. Points will be awarded as follows: (i) 0 points are awarded if you do not adequately address this criterion or if you do not provide at least three letters of support. (ii) 1 point will be awarded for a support letter from a developmental organization in the proposed service area that shows coordination with your project. (iii) 1 point will be awarded for a support letter from a state or tribal institution. (iv) 1 point will be awarded for a support letter from a local institution. (v) 1 point will be awarded for support that includes recognition of rural values that balance employment opportunities with environmental stewardship and other rural amenities. You may submit a maximum of 3 letters of support for this criterion (or you may reference other letters submitted with the application). When awarding points for this criterion, we will only consider support letters from developmental organizations in the proposed service area, and state and local institutions. Additionally, identical form letters signed by multiple organizations will not be included in the count of support letters received. Support letters must be included as an attachment to the application. (f) Future support (maximum of 15 points). Describe the vision for funding Center operations for future years, including diversification of funding VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Oct 15, 2019 Jkt 250001 sources and building in-house technical assistance capacity. Points will be awarded as follows: (i) 0 points will be awarded if you do not substantively address the criterion. (ii) 1–5 points will be awarded for applications that describe a specific plan for obtaining future funding for the Center. More points will be awarded for plans that show concrete actions for at least 3 years into the future. (iii) 1–5 points will be awarded for applications that show a diversification of funding sources. Possible funding sources include Federal awards, tribal, state and local awards, private donations, and pay-for-service plans. More points will be awarded for plans that include multiple, committed funding sources. You may summarize the funding sources/support in a chart or narrative and you must include the following information for each source: name of the organization, the amount of funds committed, the expected time period for commitment, and the purpose for which the funds can be used. (iv) 1–5 points will be awarded for applications that show how in-house capacity for providing technical assistance will be improved. More points will be awarded for Centers that have a specific plan for training and hiring in-house technical assistance experts. 2. Review and Selection Process We will review applications to determine if they are eligible for assistance based on requirements in this Notice, and other applicable Federal laws and regulations. If we determine that your application meets the requirements, it will be scored by a panel of USDA employees in accordance with the Scoring Criteria and point allocation specified in this Notice. The review panel will convene to reach a consensus on the scores for each of the eligible applications. Applications will be ranked solely based on the points awarded, and they will be funded in rank order until available funds are expended. If an application cannot be fully funded, we will offer partial funding to the extent funds are available. If the applicant offered partial funding does not accept, we will offer the funding to the next highest-ranked applicant until we find an applicant that accepts the funding or no additional eligible applicants exist. If your application is ranked and not funded, it will not be carried forward into the next competition. PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 55281 F. Federal Award Administration Information 1. Federal Award Notices If you are selected for funding, you will receive a signed Letter of Conditions containing instructions on requirements necessary to proceed with execution and performance of the award. If you are able to meet the conditions of the award within the specified time frame (typically up to 90 calendar days), we will proceed with approving an award. If you are not able to meet the conditions of the award, we may terminate consideration of your application at our discretion and choose to award the funds to the next highestranked applicant. If you are not selected for funding, you will be notified in writing and informed of any review and appeal rights. Funding of successfully appealed applications will be limited to available FY 2019 funding. 2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements Additional requirements that apply to grantees selected for this program can be found in 2 CFR parts 200, 215, 400, 415, 417, 418, and 421. All recipients of Federal financial assistance are required to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation (See 2 CFR part 170). You will be required to have the necessary processes and systems in place to comply with the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act reporting requirements (See 2 CFR 170.200(b), unless you are exempt under 2 CFR 170.110(b)). These regulations may be obtained at https://www.gpoaccess.gov/ cfr/. The following additional requirements apply to grantees selected for this program: • Agency approved Grant Agreement. • Letter of Conditions. • Form RD 1940–1, ‘‘Request for Obligation of Funds.’’ • Form RD 1942–46, ‘‘Letter of Intent to Meet Conditions.’’ • Form AD–1047, ‘‘Certification Regarding Debarment, Suspension, and Other Responsibility Matters-Primary Covered Transactions.’’ • Form AD–1048, ‘‘Certification Regarding Debarment, Suspension, Ineligibility and Voluntary ExclusionLower Tier Covered Transactions.’’ • Form AD–1049, ‘‘Certification Regarding a Drug-Free Workplace Requirement (Grants).’’ • Form AD–3031, ‘‘Assurance Regarding Felony Conviction or Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants.’’ Must be signed by E:\FR\FM\16OCN1.SGM 16OCN1 55282 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 200 / Wednesday, October 16, 2019 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES corporate applicants who receive an award under this Notice. • Form RD 400–4, ‘‘Assurance Agreement.’’ By signing Form 400–4, Assurance Agreement recipients affirm that they will operate the program free from discrimination. The recipient will maintain the race and ethnic data on the board members and beneficiaries of the program. The Recipient will provide alternative forms of communication to persons with limited English proficiency. The Agency will conduct Civil Rights Compliance Reviews on recipients to identify the collection of racial and ethnic data on Program beneficiaries. In addition, the Compliance review will ensure that equal access to the Program benefits and activities are provided for persons with disabilities and language barriers. • SF LLL, ‘‘Disclosure of Lobbying Activities,’’ if applicable. • Certification of Lobbying. Your authorized representative must sign a certification which contains the entire statement from 2 CFR part 418, Appendix A. 3. Reporting After award approval, you will be required to provide the following: a. A SF–425, ‘‘Federal Financial Report,’’ and a project performance report will be required on a quarterly basis (due 30 calendar days after end of each quarter) for the first year of the project to ensure that all recipients are able to complete start-up activities and begin providing technical assistance. Recipients may submit financial and performance reports on a semi-annual basis for the second year of the project, provided they are on schedule for project completion. For the purposes of this program, quarters end on March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31. The project performance reports shall include a comparison of actual accomplishments to the objectives established for that period; b. Reasons why established objectives were not met, if applicable; c. Reasons for any problems, delays, or adverse conditions, if any, which have affected or will affect attainment of overall project objectives, prevent meeting time schedules or objectives, or preclude the attainment of particular objectives during established time periods. This disclosure shall be accompanied by a statement of the action taken or planned to resolve the situation; and d. Objectives and timetable established for the next reporting period. e. Provide a final project and financial status report within 90 calendar days VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:10 Oct 15, 2019 Jkt 250001 after the expiration or termination of the award. f. Provide outcome project performance reports and final deliverables. G. Agency Contacts email: program.intake@usda.gov. Bette B. Brand, Administrator, Rural Business-Cooperative Service. [FR Doc. 2019–22551 Filed 10–15–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–XY–P For general questions about this announcement and for program Technical Assistance, please contact National Office staff: Gail Thuner, Management and Program Analyst, cpgrants@wdc.usda.gov, or call 202– 690–1376. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Vermont Advisory Committee Commission on Civil Rights. Announcement of meeting. AGENCY: H. Other Information ACTION: Non-Discrimination Statement SUMMARY: 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/ 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 for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720–2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877–8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD– 3027, found online at https:// www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_ cust.html 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, call (866) 632–9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) 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 PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission), and the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), that a meeting of the Vermont Advisory Committee to the Commission will convene by conference call at 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on Wednesday, October 16, 2019. The purpose of the meeting is to vote on the committee’s Statement of Concern on housing. DATES: Wednesday, October 16, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. EDT. Public Call-In Information: Conference call-in number: 1–800–367– 2403 and conference call 8242563. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Evelyn Bohor at ero@usccr.gov or by phone at 202–376–7533. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Interested members of the public may listen to the discussion by calling the following tollfree conference call-in number: 1–800– 367–2403 and conference call 8242563. Please be advised that before placing them into the conference call, the conference call operator will ask callers to provide their names, their organizational affiliations (if any), and email addresses (so that callers may be notified of future meetings). Callers can expect to incur charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, and the Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over landline connections to the toll-free conference call-in number. Persons with hearing impairments may also follow the discussion by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1– 800–977–8339 and providing the operator with the toll-free conference call-in number: 1–800–367–2403 and conference call 8242563. Members of the public are invited to make statements during the open comment period of the meeting or submit written comments. The comments must be received in the regional office approximately 30 days E:\FR\FM\16OCN1.SGM 16OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 200 (Wednesday, October 16, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 55274-55282]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-22551]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Rural Business-Cooperative Service


Inviting Applications for Agriculture Innovation Demonstration 
Center Grants

AGENCY: Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.

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

SUMMARY: This Notice announces that the Rural Business-Cooperative 
Service (Agency) is accepting fiscal year (FY) 2019 applications for 
the Agriculture Innovation Demonstration Center (AIC) program. In FY 
2019, the program has $3,500,000 available for funding. If

[[Page 55275]]

additional funds are appropriated during fiscal year 2020 prior to the 
selection of awards, funding amounts will be posted on the Agency 
website and we will utilize those additional FY 2020 funds to make 
awards under this Notice.
    The purpose of this program is to establish and operate Agriculture 
Innovation Centers (Centers) that provide technical and business 
development assistance to agricultural producers seeking to engage in 
the marketing or the production of Value-Added products. Eligible 
applicants include nonprofit and for-profit corporations, public 
bodies, and institutions of higher education. This program supports 
Rural Development's (RD) mission of improving the quality of life for 
rural Americans and commitment to directing resources to those who most 
need them.

DATES: Completed applications for grants must be submitted 
electronically by no later than midnight Eastern Time, March 20, 2020, 
through Grants.gov. Late applications are not eligible for funding 
under this Notice and will not be evaluated.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gail Thuner, Grants Division, 
Cooperative Programs, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, United States 
Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, MS 3253, Room 
4208-South, Washington, DC 20250-3250, or call 202-690-1374, or email 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Preface

    The Agency encourages applications that will support 
recommendations made in the Rural Prosperity Task Force report to help 
improve life in rural America. For more information, see www.usda.gov/ruralprosperity. Applicants are encouraged to consider projects that 
provide measurable results in helping rural communities build robust 
and sustainable economies through strategic investments in 
infrastructure, partnerships and innovation. Key strategies include:

 Achieving e-Connectivity for Rural America
 Developing the Rural Economy
 Harnessing Technical Innovation
 Supporting a Rural Workforce
 Improving Quality of Life

Overview

    Federal Agency Name: USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
    Funding Opportunity Title: Agriculture Innovation Demonstration 
Center.
    Announcement Type: Initial Notice.
    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number: 10.377.
    Dates: Application Deadline. Your application must be received by 
https://www.grants.gov no later than midnight Eastern Time, March 20, 
2020, or it will not be considered for funding.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, the paperwork 
burden associated with this Notice has been approved by the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control Number 0570-0045.

A. Program Description

    The AIC program is authorized by section 7608 of the Farm Security 
and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 1632b) and is implemented by 
7 CFR 4284 subparts A and K which are incorporated by reference into 
this Notice. The primary objective of the AIC program is to provide 
technical assistance to agricultural producers to market value-added 
agricultural products through Centers. Grants are available to public 
bodies, institutions of higher education, nonprofit corporations, and 
for-profit corporations. It is expected that recipients will establish 
and operate independently-governed Centers whose boards of directors 
meet the representation requirements described in Section D.2(j) of 
this Notice.
Definitions
    The terms you need to understand are defined and published at 7 CFR 
4284.3 and 7 CFR 4284.1004. The term ``you'' referenced throughout this 
Notice should be understood to mean ``you'' the applicant. Finally, as 
required by 2 CFR 200.112, we have defined our Conflict of Interest 
policy as follows.
    Conflict of Interest--A situation in which a person or entity has 
competing personal, professional, or financial interests that make it 
difficult for the person or business to act impartially. Federal 
procurement standards prohibit transactions that involve a real or 
apparent conflict of interest for owners, employees, officers, agents, 
or their immediate family members having a financial or other interest 
in the outcome of the project; or that restrict open and free 
competition for unrestrained trade. Specifically, neither grant nor 
matching funds may be used for services or goods going to, or coming 
from, a person or entity with a real or apparent conflict of interest, 
including, but not limited to, owner(s) and their immediate family 
members. Examples of conflicts of interest include using grant or 
matching funds to pay a member of the applicant's board of directors to 
provide Producer Services and using grant or matching funds to pay an 
immediate family member of the applicant to provide Producer Services.

B. Federal Award Information

    Type of Award: Competitive Grant.
    Fiscal Year Funds: FY 2019.
    Total Funding: $3,500,000.
    Minimum Award: $500,000.
    Maximum Award: $1,000,000.
    Project Period: 2 years.
    Anticipated Award Date: September 15, 2020.

C. Eligibility Information

    You must meet all of the following eligibility requirements. 
Applicants and/or applications which fail to meet any of these 
requirements by the application deadline will not be evaluated further 
or considered for funding.
    1. Eligible Applicants. Grants may be made to public bodies 
(including local governments, State governments, and Federally-
Recognized Tribes), institutions of higher education, nonprofit 
corporations, and for-profit corporations.
    (a) An applicant is ineligible if they have been debarred or 
suspended or otherwise excluded from or ineligible for participation in 
Federal assistance programs under Executive Order 12549, ``Debarment 
and Suspension.'' In addition, an applicant will be considered 
ineligible for a grant due to an outstanding judgment obtained by the 
U.S. in a Federal Court (other than U.S. Tax Court), is delinquent on 
the payment of Federal income taxes, or is delinquent on Federal debt. 
The applicant must certify as part of the application that they do not 
have an outstanding judgment against them. The Agency will check the Do 
Not Pay system to verify the certification. (See also Section D.2.f of 
this Notice.)
    (b) Any corporation (i) that has been convicted of a felony 
criminal violation under any Federal law within the past 24 months or 
(ii) that has any unpaid Federal tax liability that has been assessed, 
for which all judicial and administrative remedies have been exhausted 
or have lapsed, and that is not being paid in a timely manner pursuant 
to an agreement with the authority responsible for collecting the tax 
liability, is not eligible for financial assistance provided with funds 
appropriated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 (Pub. L. 116-
6), unless a Federal agency has considered suspension or debarment of 
the corporation and has made a

[[Page 55276]]

determination that this further action is not necessary to protect the 
interests of the Government. (See also Section D.2.e of this Notice.)
    2. Cost Sharing or Matching. Matching funds are required for at 
least one-third of the total project budget. For example, if the total 
project budget is $300,000, matching funds must be at least $100,000. 
Matching funds may be provided in cash by the applicant or a third 
party or in-kind by a third party. They must be available for use 
during the period of performance, and they must be used for allowable 
expenses. (See also Section D.2.j of this Notice.)
    3. Other Eligibility Requirements.
    Independent Governance: The Center must be independently governed, 
although it does not have to be a separate legal entity from the 
applicant organization. If the applicant is a parent organization or 
institution of higher education, you must demonstrate that there is a 
separate Board of Directors for the Center and that the Center has 
independent governance. We consider the Center to have independent 
governance if it has control over personnel decisions, including hiring 
and firing employees and contractors; setting policies and procedures, 
including personnel and procurement; developing and approving its 
budget; and selecting its own Board of Directors, which shall not 
include any members who are affiliated with the parent organization. 
(See also Section D.2.k of this Notice.)
    Qualified Board of Directors: The Board of Directors for the Center 
must include, but is not limited to, representatives from each of the 
following groups: (1) Two general agricultural organizations with the 
greatest number of members in the State in which the Center is located, 
(2) the department of agriculture, or similar State department or 
agency or a State legislator, of the State in which the Center is 
located, and (3) four entities representing different commodities 
produced in the State in which the Center is located. Note that no 
representative may represent more than one group or organization. Board 
of Director members must not have any Conflicts of Interest. (See also 
Section D.2.l of this Notice.)
    Existing Capability to Provide Services: You must be able to 
demonstrate that you have previously provided services similar to the 
Producer Services defined in 7 CFR 4284.1004 or that you have the 
capability to provide those services. In order to be considered 
qualified, you must either demonstrate at least three years of 
experience providing the same type of Producer Services as those 
proposed in the application and show a record of at least three 
positive outcomes or you must demonstrate that you currently have key 
personnel assigned to the project who have the same level of experience 
and positive outcomes, even if they have not worked for you for at 
least three years. (See also Section D.2.m of this Notice.)
    Support of Agricultural Community: You must demonstrate that at 
least three relevant agricultural organizations support your project. 
We will consider the support to be relevant if the supporting 
organization is based in the State or region in which the project will 
take place and if the organization serves the same group of producers 
(either directly or through commodity/marketing efforts) targeted by 
the proposed project. (See also Section D.2.n of this Notice.)
    Improving Value-Added Markets: Your project must focus on 
increasing and improving the ability of local agricultural producers to 
develop markets and processes for Value-Added agricultural commodities 
or products. (See also D.2.s of this Notice.)
    Use of Funds: You must propose to engage in one or more of the 
following activities during the project period:
     Consulting services for legal, accounting, and technical 
services to be used by the recipient for the purpose of establishing 
and operating the Center;
     Hiring employees for the purpose of establishing and 
operating the Center;
     Making grants to agricultural producers, individually not 
to exceed $5,000, where the aggregate amount of all such grants does 
not exceed $50,000. Note that these grants are considered subawards and 
all Federal requirements that apply to awards made under this Notice 
also apply to these subawards, including the Matching Funds 
requirement.
     Producer Services (as defined at 7 CFR 4284.1004);
     Applied research; and
     Legal services.
    For information on selected items that are not allowable for 
funding under this Notice, please review section D (6) of this Notice, 
``Funding Restrictions.''
    Period of Performance. The proposed period of performance must be 
two years or less or the application will not be considered for 
funding. Note that in the future, any recipients that have already 
received funding through this program will be limited to one-year 
project periods while new recipients will be allowed up to two years. 
This difference in time is to allow new recipients additional time for 
start-up activities. The proposed start date must be no earlier than 
three months after the expected award date and no later than six months 
after the expected award date. Extensions may be approved on a case-by-
case basis at our discretion if circumstances beyond the recipient's 
control cause a significant delay in the performance of the award. 
However, in no case, will we approve a period of performance (including 
any extension period) for longer than two years.
    Satisfactory Performance. We will check the Federal Awardee 
Performance and Integrity Information System as well as the Do Not Pay 
system prior to awarding funds. If you have deficiencies identified in 
either system, we may either discontinue processing your application if 
the deficiencies are significant or indicate a lack of capability to 
accomplish the proposed project or we may impose special conditions to 
address the deficiencies. Special conditions may include, but are not 
limited to, more frequent reporting, more detailed reporting, and the 
addition of benchmarks or checkpoints to assess progress.
    Financial Capability. We will assess the last three years of your 
financial statements and your most recent audit to confirm that you 
possess sufficient financial capabilities for the proposed project. In 
particular, you must have a current ratio of at least 1:1 and the 
ability to provide sufficient cash flow to cover at least three months 
of total project costs to account for the lag between when expenses are 
incurred, and award funds are disbursed. If you do not meet these 
requirements, you are not eligible for funding. We will also evaluate 
your operating expense ratio and the sustainability of your revenue 
sources, and if we determine that your financial capability would 
preclude you from properly managing Federal funds, your organization 
will not be eligible for an award. We may also identify any concerns 
that might require special conditions if an award is made. (See also 
Section D.2.h.)
    Application Completeness: Your application must provide all the 
information requested in Section D.2 of this Notice. Applications 
lacking sufficient information to determine eligibility and scoring 
will not be considered for funding.
    No Duplication of Current Services. Your application must 
demonstrate that you are providing services to new customers or new 
services to current customers. (See also Section D.2.s of this Notice.)
    Number of Applications. You may only submit one application in 
response to this Notice.

[[Page 55277]]

    Collaboration, Contracts, and Subawards. While we support 
collaboration between and among Centers, you must limit any contracts 
or subawards with other Centers to 10% or less of project costs. We 
consider collaboration to occur when two or more Centers work jointly 
on an activity, but each Center controls its own budget for its 
involvement. Any collaboration with other Centers must be identified in 
the proposed Work Plan.

D. Application and Submission Information

1. Address To Request Application Package
    The application template for applying for this funding opportunity 
is located at https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/agriculture-innovation-center-program. Use of the application template is strongly 
recommended to assist you with the application process.
2. Content and Form of Application Submission
    Your application must be submitted electronically through 
Grants.gov. Your application must contain all required information. You 
must follow the instructions for this funding announcement at https://www.grants.gov. Note that we cannot accept applications through mail or 
courier delivery, in-person delivery, email, or fax.
    You can locate the Grants.gov downloadable application package for 
this program by using a keyword, the program name, or the Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance Number for this program.
    When you enter the Grants.gov website, you will find information 
about applying electronically through the site, as well as the hours of 
operation. We have included additional information about how to 
register and use the Grants.gov website in our Application Guide.
    To use Grants.gov, you must already have a DUNS number and you must 
also be registered and maintain registration in SAM. We strongly 
recommend that you do not wait until the application deadline date to 
begin the application process through Grants.gov because it can take up 
to four weeks to complete the registration process.
    You must submit all application documents electronically through 
Grants.gov. Applications must include electronic signatures. Original 
signatures may be required if funds are awarded.
    After applying electronically through Grants.gov, you will receive 
an automatic acknowledgement from Grants.gov that contains a Grants.gov 
tracking number.
    Your application must contain the following required forms and 
other components:
    (a) Standard Form SF-424, ``Application for Federal Assistance,'' 
to include your DUNS number and SAM Commercial and Government Entity 
(CAGE) code and expiration date. If you do not include your DUNS number 
and your CAGE code or your DUNS number or Cage code is inactive or 
expired, we will not consider your application for funding.
    (b) Form SF-424A, ``Budget Information-Non-Construction Programs.'' 
This form must be completed and submitted as part of the application 
package.
    (c) Form SF-424B, ``Assurances--Non-Construction Programs.'' This 
form must be completed, signed, and submitted as part of the 
application package.
    (d) Form AD-3030, ``Representations Regarding Felony Conviction and 
Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants,'' if you are a 
corporation. A corporation is any entity that has filed articles of 
incorporation in one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the 
Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic 
of the Marshall Islands, or the various territories of the United 
States including American Samoa, Guam, Midway Islands, the Commonwealth 
of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin 
Islands. Corporations include both for profit and non-profit entities. 
Institutions of higher education are not required to submit this form.
    (e) You must certify that there are no current outstanding Federal 
judgments against your property and that you will not use grant funds 
to pay for any judgment obtained by the United States. You must also 
certify that you are not delinquent on the payment of Federal income 
taxes, or any Federal debt. To satisfy the Certification requirement, 
you must include this statement in your application: ``[INSERT NAME OF 
APPLICANT] certifies that the United States has not obtained an 
unsatisfied judgment against its property, is not delinquent on the 
payment of Federal income taxes, or any Federal debt, and will not use 
grant funds to pay any judgments obtained by the United States.'' A 
separate signature is not required.
    (f) Certification on Lobbying. Your authorized representative must 
sign a certification which contains the entire statement from 2 CFR 
part 418, Appendix A.
    (g) Financial Capability. You must include the last three years of 
your financial statements (balance sheets, income statements, and cash 
flow statements) and your most recent audit (including the Letter to 
the Managers).
    (h) Applicant Eligibility. You must verify your legal status and 
demonstrate your eligibility for the program.
     Public bodies must provide information regarding their 
authorization.
     Non-profit and for-profit corporations must submit the 
State's Certificate of Good Standing and your Articles of 
Incorporation. You may also submit your Bylaws if they provide 
additional information not included in your Articles of Incorporation 
that will help verify your legal status.
     Institutions of Higher Education must demonstrate that you 
qualify as an Institution of Higher Education as defined at 20 U.S.C. 
1001.
    (i) Verification of Matching Funds. Matching funds must be provided 
for at least one-third of the total project cost. For example, if your 
total project cost is $300,000, you must provide at least $100,000 in 
matching funds. Matching funds can be provided in cash by the applicant 
organization or a third-party. They can also be provided in-kind by a 
third-party organization. You must verify the amount of funds to be 
contributed, the source of the funds, the availability of the funds, 
and the purpose for which the funds will be used. All verification must 
be done on an organization's letterhead and be signed by the 
organization's authorized representative.
    (j) Governance Structure of the Center. The Center does not need to 
be an independent legal entity; however, it must be independently 
governed. You must provide an explanation of how the governance of the 
Center works (or will work if it hasn't been established at the time of 
application). In particular, you must address how the Center carries 
out personnel decisions, including hiring and firing employees and 
contractors; sets its policies and procedures, including personnel and 
procurement; develops and approves its budget; and selects its own 
Board of Directors.
    (k) Board of Directors. You must provide the following information:
    For the representatives from the two organizations with the 
greatest number of members in your State, you must identify the 
representatives, the organization, its purpose, and the number of 
members it has in your State. The purpose must focus on agriculture in 
general; it cannot be restricted to a specific group, commodity, or 
sector. The membership of the organization

[[Page 55278]]

does not need to be restricted to your State. You must also explain how 
you determined that it had the most (or second most) members. 
Acceptable sources for this information can include the state 
Department of Agriculture, or its equivalent, or a third-party, 
reliable source, such as a trade journal or university agriculture 
department.
    For the representative from the State department of agriculture (or 
equivalent) or State legislator, you must identify the representative 
and include the person's title and job responsibility if from the 
Department of Agriculture or identify the district the State legislator 
represents.
    For representatives from entities representing four commodities, 
you must identify each representative and the entity they represent. 
You must use data from State Department of Agriculture, or its 
equivalent, to demonstrate that the commodities are produced in your 
state and provide a copy of the information used.
    You must also submit a signed statement from each representative 
stating that they either are currently on the Center's Board of 
Directors or that they commit to being on the Center's Board of 
Directors during the proposed period of performance.
    If your application is selected for funding, we will confirm the 
Board of Directors still meets the requirements. If at any time, the 
Center's Board of Directors does not meet the requirements during the 
period of performance, the award will either be suspended until the 
requirements can be met or it will be terminated if the requirements 
can no longer be met.
    (l) Existing Capability to Provide Services. The applicant 
organization must be able to demonstrate that it has previously 
provided services similar to the Producer Services defined in 7 CFR 
4284.1004 or that it has the capability to provide those services. In 
order to be considered qualified, the applicant organization must 
either demonstrate at least three years of experience providing the 
same type of Producer Services as those proposed in the application and 
show a record of at least three positive outcomes or the applicant 
organization must demonstrate that it currently has key personnel 
assigned to the project who have the same level of experience and 
positive outcomes, even if they have not worked for the organization 
for at least three years. You must explain your role or your key 
personnel's role in the project and identify the organization that you 
worked with. Note that examples of positive outcomes include assisting 
a business with incorporation and assisting a business with expanding 
its operation in terms of additional staff or additional products 
marketed. It can also mean working with an organization and determining 
that going forward with a proposed project is not feasible.
    To demonstrate previously providing services, you must include a 
chart or narrative that describes the services provided during the last 
three years. The description must include the specific type of service 
provided, how many times it has been provided, and the outcomes of the 
services provided (preferably with quantitative measurements). To 
demonstrate current capability when the applicant has not previously 
provided Producer Services, the applicant must provide a narrative that 
describes the key personnel's experience with providing Producer 
Services. The narrative must include a description of the services 
provided, how many times it has been provided, and the outcomes of the 
services provided (preferably with quantitative measurements). We will 
assess the capability of each applicant organization based only on what 
is submitted with the application.
    (m) Support of the Agricultural Community. You must include at 
least three letters of support from agricultural organizations, other 
than the applicant organization, that are relevant to the project. 
Evidence of support includes contributions of cash or in-kind matching 
funds. Other examples of support include referring clients and intent 
to collaborate. We will consider the support to be relevant if the 
organization is based in the State or region in which the project will 
take place and if the organization serves the same group of producers 
(either directly or through commodity/marketing efforts) targeted by 
the proposed project.
    (n) Title Page. Your application must contain a Title Page. It is 
recommended that your Title Page include a short title for your 
proposed project as well as contact information or other application 
identifying information.
    (o) Table of Contents. Your application must contain a detailed 
Table of Contents (TOC). The TOC must include page numbers for each 
part of the application, including each evaluation criterion. Page 
numbers should begin immediately following the TOC.
    (p) Executive Summary. A summary of the proposal, not to exceed one 
page, must briefly describe the Project, tasks to be completed, and 
other relevant information that provides a general overview of the 
Project.
    (q) Goals of the Project. You must include a listing of each 
Producer Service to be offered during the project. You must also 
identify one or more specific goals relating to increasing and 
improving the ability of identified local agricultural producers to 
develop a market or process for Value-Added agricultural commodities or 
products.
    (r) Work Plan. You must include a description of your proposed work 
for the project, including how your project focuses on increasing and 
improving the ability of local agricultural producers to develop 
markets and processes for Value-Added agricultural commodities or 
products. This description must include the actions that will be taken 
in order for the Producer Services to be available from the Center. 
Each action should include a target date for completion. General start-
up tasks should be listed, followed by specific tasks listed for each 
Producer Service to be offered. Tasks associated with the start-up of 
the Center should include a focused marketing and delivery plan 
directed at the local agricultural producers that were identified in 
the Goals section of your application. The actions to be taken should 
include steps for identifying customers, hiring key personnel (if not 
already hired), contracting for services for the Center, and making 
arrangements for strategic alliances. Each defined task needs to have a 
description, assigned key personnel, and an expected time frame for 
accomplishment. You must also clearly demonstrate how your project will 
provide services to new customers or provide new services to existing 
customers.
    (s) Budget Justification. You must provide additional information 
regarding the budget you submit on the SF-424A, including your matching 
funds. This additional information should describe each category of 
expense and what specific costs are included in each category as well 
as how your Matching Funds will be used. For example, the Salaries 
justification should include the names of each staff member (not just 
key personnel) who will be paid and how much they will be paid. The 
Fringe Benefits category should include a description of how fringe 
benefits are calculated and what is included. The Contracts category 
should identify the contractors by name (if known) as well as the 
amounts expected for each contract and the purpose of each contract. 
The Other category should include the expected expenses (e.g. supplies) 
that will be included. The Travel category should identify specific 
trips that will be taken, who will be traveling, and the reason for the 
travel. Additionally, if there are any unusual expenses, you should 
describe

[[Page 55279]]

them and why they are appropriate for the award.
    (t) Scoring Criteria. Each of the scoring criteria in this Notice 
must be addressed in narrative form, with a maximum of three pages for 
each individual scoring criterion, unless otherwise specified. Failure 
to address each scoring criteria will result in the application being 
determined ineligible.
    (u) Strategic Coordination and Alliances. Describe arrangements in 
place or planned with end users (for example, processing and 
distribution companies and regional grocers) as well as with entities 
that have technical research capabilities, broad support from the 
agricultural community in the State or region, significant coordination 
with end users, strategic alliances with entities having technical 
research capabilities and a focused delivery plan for reaching out to 
the producer community.
3. DUNS Number and SAM
    To be eligible, you are required to:
    (a) Provide a valid DUNS number in your application, which can be 
obtained at no cost via a toll-free request line at (866) 705-5711 or 
at https://fedgov.dnb.com/webform.;
    (b) Register in SAM before submitting your application. You may 
register in SAM at no cost at https://www.sam.gov/SAM/. You must 
provide your SAM CAGE Code and expiration date; and
    (c) Continue to maintain an active SAM registration with current 
information at all times during which you have an active Federal award 
or an application or plan under consideration by a Federal awarding 
agency.
    If you have not fully complied with all applicable DUNS and SAM 
requirements, the Agency may determine that the applicant is not 
qualified to receive a Federal award and the Agency may use that 
determination as a basis for making an award to another applicant. 
Please refer to Section F. 2 for additional submission requirements 
that apply to grantees selected for this program.
4. Submission Dates and Times
    Application Deadline Date: March 20, 2020.
    Explanation of Deadlines: Applications must be RECEIVED by https://www.grants.gov by midnight Eastern Time March 20, 2020, to be eligible 
for funding. Please review the Grants.gov website at https://grants.gov/applicants/organization_registration.jsp for instructions on the 
process of registering your organization as soon as possible to ensure 
you can meet the electronic application deadline. Grants.gov will not 
accept applications submitted after the deadline.
5. Intergovernmental Review
    Executive Order (E.O.) 12372, ``Intergovernmental Review of Federal 
Programs,'' applies to this program. This E.O. requires that Federal 
agencies provide opportunities for consultation on proposed assistance 
with State and local governments. Many States have established a Single 
Point of Contact (SPOC) to facilitate this consultation. For a list of 
States that maintain a SPOC, please see the White House website: 
https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/SPOC-Feb.-2018.pdf. If your State has a SPOC, you may submit a copy of the 
application directly for review. Any comments obtained through the SPOC 
must be provided to us for consideration as part of your application. 
If your State has not established a SPOC, or if you do not want to 
submit a copy of the application, we will submit your application to 
the SPOC or other appropriate agency or agencies.
6. Funding Restrictions
    Grant funds must be used for Technical Assistance. No funds made 
available under this solicitation shall be used to:
    (a) Plan, repair, rehabilitate, acquire, or construct a building or 
facility, including a processing facility;
    (b) Purchase, rent, or install fixed equipment, including 
processing equipment;
    (c) Purchase vehicles, including boats;
    (d) Pay for the preparation of the grant application;
    (e) Pay expenses not directly related to the funded Project;
    (f) Fund political or lobbying activities;
    (g) Fund any activities considered unallowable by the applicable 
grant cost principles, including 2 CFR part 200, subpart E and the 
Federal Acquisition Regulation;
    (h) Fund architectural work for a specific physical facility;
    (i) Fund any direct expenses for the production of any commodity or 
product to which value will be added, including seed, rootstock, labor 
for harvesting the crop, and delivery of the commodity to a processing 
facility;
    (j) Purchase land;
    (k) Duplicate current activities or activities paid for by another 
Federal grant program;
    (l) Pay costs of the Project incurred prior to the date of award 
approval;
    (m) Pay for assistance to any private business enterprise that does 
not have at least 51 percent ownership by those who are either citizens 
of the United States or reside in the United States after being legally 
admitted for permanent residence;
    (n) Pay any judgment or debt owed to the United States; or
    (o) Pay for any goods or services from a person who has a Conflict 
of Interest with the recipient.
    In addition, your application will not be considered for funding if 
it does any of the following:
     Requests more than the maximum grant amount;
     Focuses assistance on only one agriculture producer; or
     Proposes ineligible costs that equal more than 10 percent 
of total grant funds requested.
    We will consider your application for funding if it includes 
ineligible costs of 10 percent or less of total grant funds requested, 
if it is determined eligible otherwise. However, if your application is 
successful, those ineligible costs must be removed and replaced with 
eligible costs before the Agency will make the grant award or the 
amount of the grant award will be reduced accordingly. If we cannot 
determine the percentage of ineligible costs, your application will not 
be considered for funding.
7. Other Submission Requirements
    (a) National Environmental Policy Act. This Notice has been 
reviewed in accordance with 7 CFR part 1970, ``Environmental Policies 
and Procedures.'' We have determined that an Environmental Impact 
Statement is not required because the issuance of regulations and 
instructions, as well as amendments to them, describing administrative 
and financial procedures for processing, approving, and implementing 
the Agency's financial programs is categorically excluded in the 
Agency's National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulation found at 7 
CFR 1970.53(f). We have determined that this Notice does not constitute 
a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human 
environment.
    The Agency will review each grant application to determine its 
compliance with 7 CFR part 1970. The applicant may be asked to provide 
additional information or documentation to assist the Agency with this 
determination.
    (b) Civil Rights Compliance Requirements. All grants made under 
this Notice are subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as 
required by the USDA (7 CFR part 15, subpart A) and Section 504 of the 
Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

[[Page 55280]]

E. Application Review Information

    We will review applications to determine if they are eligible for 
assistance based on requirements in this Notice, and other applicable 
Federal laws and regulations. If we determine that your application is 
eligible for assistance, your application will be scored by a panel of 
USDA employees based on the Scoring Criteria specified in this Notice. 
The highest scoring application will be funded up to the maximum amount 
available. Additional applications that cannot be fully funded may be 
offered partial funding at the Agency's discretion.
1. Scoring Criteria
    All eligible and complete applications will be evaluated based on 
the following criteria. Evaluators will base scores only on the 
information provided in the application. This is a competitive program, 
so you will receive scores based on the quality of the information 
provided. Simply addressing the criteria will not guarantee higher 
scores. The total points possible for the criteria are 80.
    (a) Ability to Deliver (maximum score of 15 points). The 
application will be evaluated as to whether it evidences unique 
abilities to deliver Producer Services so as to create sustainable 
Value-Added ventures. Abilities that are transferable to a wide range 
of agricultural Value-Added commodities are preferred over highly 
specialized skills. Strong skills must be accompanied by a credible and 
thoughtful plan.
    Points will be awarded as follows:
    (i) 0 points will be awarded if you do not substantively address 
the criterion.
    (ii) 1-4 points will be awarded for unique abilities, that is, 
abilities that are not available through other organizations in the 
Center's service area.
    (iii) 1-4 points will be awarded for the expected sustainability of 
the Value-Added ventures supported by the project. For example, 
applications that propose to work with ventures where the expected 
sustainability has been assessed will receive more points than 
applications that do not address expected sustainability. By 
sustainability, we mean that the venture assisted will generate wealth 
(e.g. if the project adds retained earnings to the balance sheet, not 
just an increase in cash flow).
    (iv) 1-4 points will be awarded for the transferability of the 
abilities identified. Abilities that are transferable to a wide range 
of commodities will receive more points.
    (v) 1-3 points will be awarded for plans to accomplish work that 
are thoughtful and seem reasonable. For example, do the services the 
Center will provide match the stated goals (from Section D.2.q). Are 
the results measurable and attainable within the proposed project 
period?
    (b) Successful Track Record (maximum score of 15 points). The 
applicant organization's track record in achieving Value-Added 
successes will be evaluated.
    Points will be awarded as follows:
    (i) 0 points will be awarded if you do not substantively address 
the criterion.
    (ii) 1-3 points will be awarded if the applicant has more than 
three years of experience in accomplishing Value-Added successes. More 
points will be given for more years of experience, based on the 
distribution of what all eligible applicants submit. No credit will be 
given for activities that did not directly result in a Value-Added 
success. Note that we consider a success to include working with an 
organization and providing coaching to indicate that the proposed 
venture is not feasible.
    (iii) 1-4 points will be awarded based on the number of Value-Added 
successes. More points will be given for higher numbers, based on the 
distribution of what eligible applicants submit.
    (iv) 1-4 points will be awarded based on the significance of Value-
Added successes. More points will be given for more significant 
successes, based on the distribution of what eligible applicants 
submit.
    (v) 1-4 points will be awarded based on the complexity of the role 
that the applicant organization played in the Value-Added successes.
    (c) Work Plan/Budget (maximum of 15 points). We will review the 
work plan for detailed actions and an accompanying timetable for 
implementing the proposed work. We will review budgets for completeness 
and the strength of non-Federal funding commitments. Note that there is 
no additional information required for this criterion. We will use the 
Work Plan and Budget Justification for our evaluation.
    Points will be awarded as follows:
    (i) 0 points will be awarded if you do not substantively address 
this criterion.
    (ii) 1-6 points will be awarded for work plans that describe each 
task, including objectives and potential outcomes, and how that task 
connects to the goal of the project. More points will be awarded for 
work plans that completely describe tasks and show measurable outcomes 
as well as for work plans that show a cohesive plan for the achievement 
of the goal(s) of the project.
    (iii) 1-3 points will be awarded for work plans that show a 
reasonable and differentiated timetable for the proposed tasks. For 
example, a work plan that shows a schedule for how a Center will begin 
operation, then market its services, and then provide its services 
would be awarded more points that a work plan that simply states all 
Producer Services will be offered for 12 months. We will also consider 
how you will identify customers. Applications with a specific 
description of customer identification will receive more points.
    (iv) 1-3 points will be awarded for the budget justification. More 
points will be awarded for justifications that completely describe all 
categories of cost, including indirect costs. We consider that a 
complete description includes identification of key personnel 
(including any contractors) and the salaries and fringe benefits 
associated with their time on the project as well as identification of 
all travel events (including who will be traveling and what the purpose 
of the trip is), individual contract amounts and purposes, and items 
that are categorized, such as computers, printers, scanners, copiers, 
and other office items.
    (v) 1-3 points will be awarded for higher quality matching funds. 
We consider cash match to be of higher quality than in-kind. Thus, we 
will award more points for applications that have a larger percentage 
of matching funds coming from cash, based on the distribution of what 
is submitted by applicants.
    (d) Qualifications of Key Personnel (maximum of 15 points). 
Describe the qualifications of the key personnel for the project. Key 
personnel may include employees of the Center or consultants/
contractors, but they do not include administrative or financial staff 
whose purpose is to support the administrative requirements of the 
award. Your description should include the number of years of 
experience that a person has doing the type of work that will be 
assigned during the project as well as metrics indicating the number of 
times the person has provided the assistance and the outcomes of that 
assistance. You must also include the total hours that will be 
contributed to the project by each person. Points will be awarded as 
follows:
    (i) 0 points will be awarded if you do not adequately address this 
criterion.
    (ii) 1-5 points based on the percentage of work that will be 
carried out by Center employees. We will calculate the percentage by 
adding the

[[Page 55281]]

hours of the key personnel and dividing the number of hours from Center 
employees by the total hours.
    a. 1 point for 10-20% of the work carried out by Center employees;
    b. 2 points for 21-40% of the work carried out by Center employees;
    c. 3 points for 41-60% of the work carried out by Center employees;
    d. 4 points for 61-80% of the work carried out by Center employees; 
and
    e. 5 points for 81-100% of the work carried out by Center 
employees.
    (iii) 1-10 points based on the qualifications of the key personnel. 
More points will be awarded in cases where the key personnel are 
assigned to specific tasks that match their experience and skills.
    (e) Local support (maximum of 4 points). You must show that the 
Center has local support from and coordination with other developmental 
organizations in the proposed service area and with tribal, state, and 
local institutions. Support documentation should include recognition of 
rural values that balance employment opportunities with environmental 
stewardship and other rural amenities.
    Points will be awarded as follows:
    (i) 0 points are awarded if you do not adequately address this 
criterion or if you do not provide at least three letters of support.
    (ii) 1 point will be awarded for a support letter from a 
developmental organization in the proposed service area that shows 
coordination with your project.
    (iii) 1 point will be awarded for a support letter from a state or 
tribal institution.
    (iv) 1 point will be awarded for a support letter from a local 
institution.
    (v) 1 point will be awarded for support that includes recognition 
of rural values that balance employment opportunities with 
environmental stewardship and other rural amenities.
    You may submit a maximum of 3 letters of support for this criterion 
(or you may reference other letters submitted with the application). 
When awarding points for this criterion, we will only consider support 
letters from developmental organizations in the proposed service area, 
and state and local institutions. Additionally, identical form letters 
signed by multiple organizations will not be included in the count of 
support letters received. Support letters must be included as an 
attachment to the application.
    (f) Future support (maximum of 15 points). Describe the vision for 
funding Center operations for future years, including diversification 
of funding sources and building in-house technical assistance capacity.
    Points will be awarded as follows:
    (i) 0 points will be awarded if you do not substantively address 
the criterion.
    (ii) 1-5 points will be awarded for applications that describe a 
specific plan for obtaining future funding for the Center. More points 
will be awarded for plans that show concrete actions for at least 3 
years into the future.
    (iii) 1-5 points will be awarded for applications that show a 
diversification of funding sources. Possible funding sources include 
Federal awards, tribal, state and local awards, private donations, and 
pay-for-service plans. More points will be awarded for plans that 
include multiple, committed funding sources. You may summarize the 
funding sources/support in a chart or narrative and you must include 
the following information for each source: name of the organization, 
the amount of funds committed, the expected time period for commitment, 
and the purpose for which the funds can be used.
    (iv) 1-5 points will be awarded for applications that show how in-
house capacity for providing technical assistance will be improved. 
More points will be awarded for Centers that have a specific plan for 
training and hiring in-house technical assistance experts.
2. Review and Selection Process
    We will review applications to determine if they are eligible for 
assistance based on requirements in this Notice, and other applicable 
Federal laws and regulations. If we determine that your application 
meets the requirements, it will be scored by a panel of USDA employees 
in accordance with the Scoring Criteria and point allocation specified 
in this Notice. The review panel will convene to reach a consensus on 
the scores for each of the eligible applications. Applications will be 
ranked solely based on the points awarded, and they will be funded in 
rank order until available funds are expended. If an application cannot 
be fully funded, we will offer partial funding to the extent funds are 
available. If the applicant offered partial funding does not accept, we 
will offer the funding to the next highest-ranked applicant until we 
find an applicant that accepts the funding or no additional eligible 
applicants exist.
    If your application is ranked and not funded, it will not be 
carried forward into the next competition.

F. Federal Award Administration Information

1. Federal Award Notices
    If you are selected for funding, you will receive a signed Letter 
of Conditions containing instructions on requirements necessary to 
proceed with execution and performance of the award. If you are able to 
meet the conditions of the award within the specified time frame 
(typically up to 90 calendar days), we will proceed with approving an 
award. If you are not able to meet the conditions of the award, we may 
terminate consideration of your application at our discretion and 
choose to award the funds to the next highest-ranked applicant.
    If you are not selected for funding, you will be notified in 
writing and informed of any review and appeal rights. Funding of 
successfully appealed applications will be limited to available FY 2019 
funding.
2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
    Additional requirements that apply to grantees selected for this 
program can be found in 2 CFR parts 200, 215, 400, 415, 417, 418, and 
421. All recipients of Federal financial assistance are required to 
report information about first-tier subawards and executive 
compensation (See 2 CFR part 170). You will be required to have the 
necessary processes and systems in place to comply with the Federal 
Funding Accountability and Transparency Act reporting requirements (See 
2 CFR 170.200(b), unless you are exempt under 2 CFR 170.110(b)). These 
regulations may be obtained at https://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/.
    The following additional requirements apply to grantees selected 
for this program:
     Agency approved Grant Agreement.
     Letter of Conditions.
     Form RD 1940-1, ``Request for Obligation of Funds.''
     Form RD 1942-46, ``Letter of Intent to Meet Conditions.''
     Form AD-1047, ``Certification Regarding Debarment, 
Suspension, and Other Responsibility Matters-Primary Covered 
Transactions.''
     Form AD-1048, ``Certification Regarding Debarment, 
Suspension, Ineligibility and Voluntary Exclusion-Lower Tier Covered 
Transactions.''
     Form AD-1049, ``Certification Regarding a Drug-Free 
Workplace Requirement (Grants).''
     Form AD-3031, ``Assurance Regarding Felony Conviction or 
Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants.'' Must be signed by

[[Page 55282]]

corporate applicants who receive an award under this Notice.
     Form RD 400-4, ``Assurance Agreement.'' By signing Form 
400-4, Assurance Agreement recipients affirm that they will operate the 
program free from discrimination. The recipient will maintain the race 
and ethnic data on the board members and beneficiaries of the program. 
The Recipient will provide alternative forms of communication to 
persons with limited English proficiency. The Agency will conduct Civil 
Rights Compliance Reviews on recipients to identify the collection of 
racial and ethnic data on Program beneficiaries. In addition, the 
Compliance review will ensure that equal access to the Program benefits 
and activities are provided for persons with disabilities and language 
barriers.
     SF LLL, ``Disclosure of Lobbying Activities,'' if 
applicable.
     Certification of Lobbying. Your authorized representative 
must sign a certification which contains the entire statement from 2 
CFR part 418, Appendix A.
3. Reporting
    After award approval, you will be required to provide the 
following:
    a. A SF-425, ``Federal Financial Report,'' and a project 
performance report will be required on a quarterly basis (due 30 
calendar days after end of each quarter) for the first year of the 
project to ensure that all recipients are able to complete start-up 
activities and begin providing technical assistance. Recipients may 
submit financial and performance reports on a semi-annual basis for the 
second year of the project, provided they are on schedule for project 
completion. For the purposes of this program, quarters end on March 31, 
June 30, September 30, and December 31. The project performance reports 
shall include a comparison of actual accomplishments to the objectives 
established for that period;
    b. Reasons why established objectives were not met, if applicable;
    c. Reasons for any problems, delays, or adverse conditions, if any, 
which have affected or will affect attainment of overall project 
objectives, prevent meeting time schedules or objectives, or preclude 
the attainment of particular objectives during established time 
periods. This disclosure shall be accompanied by a statement of the 
action taken or planned to resolve the situation; and
    d. Objectives and timetable established for the next reporting 
period.
    e. Provide a final project and financial status report within 90 
calendar days after the expiration or termination of the award.
    f. Provide outcome project performance reports and final 
deliverables.

G. Agency Contacts

    For general questions about this announcement and for program 
Technical Assistance, please contact National Office staff: Gail 
Thuner, Management and Program Analyst, [email protected], or call 
202-690-1376.

H. Other Information

Non-Discrimination Statement
    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/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 for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, 
audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible 
Agency or USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or 
contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. 
Additionally, program information may be made available in languages 
other than English.
    To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA 
Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at https://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html 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, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA 
by:
    (1) 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].

Bette B. Brand,
Administrator, Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-22551 Filed 10-15-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-XY-P