Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) Inviting Applications for the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) for Fiscal Year 2014
This Notice announces the availability of $5,967,000 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 funding for competitive grant funds for the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) program through the Rural Housing Service (RHS), an agency within the USDA Rural Development mission area herein referred to as the Agency. Applicants must provide matching funds in an amount at least equal to the Federal grant. These grants will be made to qualified intermediary organizations that will provide financial and technical assistance to recipients to develop their capacity and ability to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, or community and economic development that will support the community. This Notice lists the information needed to submit an application for these funds.
Through this action, the Rural Housing Service (RHS) is proposing to amend its regulation to change the requirements of the Reserve Account for the Section 515 Rural Rental Housing (RRH) program. The intended effect of this action is to address the reserve account requirement of an Agency countersignature with the borrower when a Section 538 guaranteed loan is involved, and to also clarify that reserve account funds cannot be used to pay for fees associated with the Section 538 guaranteed loan program.
Beef Promotion and Research; Reapportionment
This rule adjusts representation on the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board (Board), established under the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 (Act), to reflect changes in cattle inventories as well as cattle and beef imports that have occurred since the most recent Board reapportionment rule became effective in July 2011. These adjustments are required by the Beef Promotion and Research Order (Order) and result in a decrease in Board membership from 103 to 100, effective with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) appointments for terms beginning early in the year 2015. The rule also makes technical amendments to update and correct information in the Order and regulations.
Sequoia National Forest, California; Tobias Forest Ecosystem Restoration Project
The Forest Service proposes ecological restoration in the Tobias Forest Ecosystem Restoration Project (Tobias Project) by encouraging a healthy and diverse forest ecosystem that is resilient to the effects of wildfire, drought, disease, and other disturbances. The Tobias Project is located in the Greenhorn Mountains on the Western Divide Ranger District, between Alta Sierra and Johnsondale in Tulare County, California. This project includes commercially thinning stands of mature trees (smaller than 30 inches diameter at breast height) to increase heterogeneity and resilience on 960 acres. An additional 3,300 acres are proposed for hand thinning of immature trees. To restore the historic species composition, areas selected for thinning would favor Jeffrey and sugar pines, oak, and other shade intolerant species.
Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center
This notice announces the availability of funds and solicits applications from eligible institutions to compete for financial assistance in the form of a grant to establish a Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center (The Center) at an 1890 Institution (as defined in 7 U.S.C. 7601).
Notice of Request for Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Introduction of Organisms and Products Altered or Produced Through Genetic Engineering
In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's intention to request an extension of approval of an information collection associated with the regulations for the introduction of organisms and products altered or produced through genetic engineering.
Intermountain Region, Boise National Forest, Idaho City Ranger District; Idaho; Becker Integrated Resource Project
The Forest Service will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to disclose the environmental consequences of implementing alternatives considered for the Becker Integrated Resource Project. The 19,327 acre Becker project area falls within the Crooked River Watershed. The area is located approximately 18 miles northeast of Idaho City, Idaho, and about 48 miles northeast of Boise, Idaho, in Boise County. The primary travel routes in the project area include State Highway 21 and National Forest System (NFS) roads 336, 362, 384, 385, 393 and 394. The proposal includes 10,624 acres of vegetation management and fuels treatments, closing 24 miles of NFS roads to public motorized use, decommissioning an additional 30.8 miles of NFS and unauthorized roads, designating 23.7 miles of new motorized trail for vehicles less than or equal to 50 inches in width, authorizing 41.4 miles of non-motorized summer trails, authorizing 55.7 miles of non- motorized winter trails, including a winter motorized restriction area surrounding the winter non-motorized trails, and removing barriers on 23 culverts to improve fish passage. The project documents are available electronically on the project Web page located at: www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=18922.
Newspapers Used for Publication of Legal Notice in the Rocky Mountain Region, Which Includes Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Parts of South Dakota and Wyoming
This notice lists the newspapers that Ranger Districts, Forests, and the Regional Office of the Rocky Mountain Region will use to publish legal notices required under 36 CFR part 218 and 219. The intended effect of this action is to inform interested members of the public which newspapers will be used to publish legal notices for opportunities to comment or file an administrative review on USDA Forest Service proposals.
Cotton Transition Assistance Program and General Provisions for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs
This rule implements the new Cotton Transition Assistance Program (CTAP) authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill). It also includes general provisions needed to implement CTAP, the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Programs. ARC and PLC will be implemented through a separate rulemaking and will provide benefits for other commodities. CTAP is a temporary program that provides payments to producers on farms for which cotton base acres were in existence as of September 30, 2013, as adjusted. It will operate for only the 2014 crop year and in certain counties for the 2015 crop year, and is intended to be a transition for producers on farms with upland cotton base acres that were in existence as of September 30, 2013, between the previous Direct and Counter- cyclical Payments Program (DCP) and the new Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX), which is authorized to begin no later than the 2015 crop year.
Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California: Red Fir Restoration Project
The Shasta-Trinity National Forest proposes to treat diseased stands of Shasta red fir (Abies magnifica var. shastensis) and mixed conifer to reduce disease occurrence and fuels accumulations on approximately 1,400 acres. Vegetative treatments include regeneration with legacy tree retention, thin from above, sanitation/improvement cutting, plantation/pre-commercial thinning, and a roadside fuels buffer. Removed trees would primarily be those infected with disease (dwarf mistletoe and Cytospora canker) as well as those contributing to overcrowded stand conditions. Young seedlings would be planted in openings created by removal of the diseased overstory. Fuels would be reduced to less hazardous levels in all treated stands. The proposed project area includes 29 miles of National Forest System Roads, which would be maintained and/or reconstructed in order to meet National Forest System Road standards. The project area is in Township 1, 2 and 3 North, and Range 5 and 6 East, Humboldt Meridian, located in Trinity and Humboldt Counties, approximately six miles west of Hyampom, California.
Flathead Resource Advisory Committee
The Flathead Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) will meet in Kalispell, Montana. The committee is authorized under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, (the Act) (Pub. L. 112-141) and operates in compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) (Pub. L. 92-463). The purpose of the committee is to improve collaborative relationships and to provide advice and recommendations to the Forest Service concerning projects and funding consistent with the Title II of the Act. The meetings are open to the public. The purpose of the meetings is to hear project proposal presentations for 2015.
Irish Potatoes Grown in Certain Designated Counties in Idaho, and Malheur County, Oregon; Modification of Container Requirements
This rule modifies the container requirements currently prescribed under the Idaho-Eastern Oregon potato marketing order (order). The order regulates the handling of potatoes grown in certain designated counties in Idaho, and Malheur County, Oregon and is administered locally by the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Potato Committee (Committee). This rule removes the requirement that fiberboard cartons used to pack 50-pound quantities of U.S. No. 2 grade potatoes be of one-piece construction. This change is needed to respond to market demands and to provide handlers flexibility in shipping U.S. No. 2 grade potatoes. In addition, this rule makes a change to the order's handling regulations to correct a citation reference.
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest; Oregon; Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplement to the 2012 Final Environmental Impact Statement for Snow Basin Vegetation Management Project
The USDA Forest Service will prepare a Supplement to the Snow Basin Vegetation Management Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to address the environmental impact of the project on elk and elk habitat, as directed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in League of Wilderness Defenders/Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project v. Connaughton, 752 F.3d 755, 767 (9th Cir. 2014). Specifically, the court held that `plaintiffs are likely to prevail on their claim that a supplemental EIS must be completed to show the environmental impact of the Snow Basin project on elk and their habitat now that the [Travel Management Plan] has been withdrawn.' Id. at 761.
Angeles National Forest; Los Angeles County, CA Williamson Rock/Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) Project EIS
The Angeles National Forest proposes to provide limited, managed recreational activities in the vicinity of Williamson Rock. The proposed action would include allowing access to the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) and limited access to Williamson Rock for rock climbing, while protecting the federally listed mountain yellow- legged frog (MYLF) and other unique resources. The area has been closed to the public since 2006, either by Forest Order or court injunction, to protect the MYLF. The project was originally proposed as an environmental assessment, and an opportunity for public scoping comments was provided from December 18, 2013 through January 24, 2014. Preliminary issues identified during scoping indicated that there may be significant effects resulting from the proposed action. Responsible official, Forest Supervisor Thomas A. Contreras, has decided to prepare an EIS instead of an EA for this project. The proposed action in the EA has been modified for the EIS.
Request for Applications: The Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, State and Private Forestry, Cooperative Forestry staff, requests applications for the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (Community Forest Program or CFP). This is a competitive grant program whereby local governments, qualified nonprofit organizations, and Indian tribes are eligible to apply for grants to establish community forests through fee simple acquisition of private forest land from a willing seller. The purpose of the program is to establish community forests by protecting forest land from conversion to non-forest uses and provide community benefits. Some of these benefits include sustainable forest management; clean air, water, wildlife habitat, and other environmental benefits: forest-based educational programs; service as models of effective forest stewardship; and recreational benefits secured with public access. Private forest land that is at least five acres in size, suitable to sustain natural vegetation, and at least 75 percent forested is considered eligible lands for grants funded under this program. The lands must also be threatened by conversion to non-forest use, must not be held in trust by the United States on behalf of any Indian tribe, must not be tribal allotment lands, must be offered for sale by a willing seller, and if acquired by an eligible entity, must provide defined community benefits under CFP and allow public access.
National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection; Committee Renewal
The U.S. Department of Agriculture intends to renew the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI). The purpose of the Committee is to provide advice to the Secretary of Agriculture concerning State and Federal programs with respect to meat and poultry inspection, food safety, and other matters that fall within the scope of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA).
Notice of Request for Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Virus-Serum-Toxin Act and Regulations
In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's intention to request an extension of approval of an information collection associated with the Virus-Serum-Toxin Act and regulations.
Notice of Request for Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Importation of Eggplant from Israel
In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's intention to request an extension of approval of an information collection associated with the regulations for the importation of eggplant from Israel into the continental United States.
Request for Public Comments on Proposed Collection of Information
In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35, as amended) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) implementing regulations (5 CFR part 1320), this notice announces the National Institute of Food and Agriculture's (NIFA) proposed collection of information for the application for Non-Land Grant College of Agriculture designation. NIFA intends to submit the following information collection request to OMB for review and approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act.
Request for Information: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Retailer Transaction Data
In light of a recent court decision regarding the availability of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retailer transaction data to the public, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is issuing this Request for Information to help inform FNS' response to the recent court decision and any future policy changes regarding the release of SNAP retailer transaction data. In moving forward, USDA is interested in providing greater transparency. However, the Department also recognizes that any movement in this arena needs to be done carefully, after considering potential consequences and the views of the variety of stakeholders. As a result, this notice requests information from any and all interested parties, with a particular focus on current and former SNAP authorized retailers, as to whether the disclosure of aggregated SNAP redemption data at the individual store level would improve the administration and enforcement of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (the Act) and whether such data is confidential business information. Background: Section 9(c) of the Act, 7 U.S.C. 2018(c), limits the use or disclosure of information received from applicant and participating SNAP retailers. Use and disclosure of such information is limited to purposes directly connected with the administration and enforcement of the Act, or the regulations issued pursuant to the Act, with limited exceptions for law enforcement and use by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. Section 9(c) imposes criminal penalties for disclosure of such information in a manner not authorized by Federal law or regulation. Throughout the history of the Program, Section 9(c) of the Act has been interpreted as a withholding statute that includes SNAP retailer redemption information. On September 22, 1978, FNS published a final rule codifying the interpretation that Section 9(c) prohibited the use or disclosure of ``information furnished by firms, including . . . their redemptions of coupons, . . . except for purposes directly connected with the administration and enforcement of Food Stamp Act and these regulations.'' 43 FR. 43,272, 43,275 (Sept. 22, 1978) (currently codified at 7 CFR 278.1(q)). FNS has operated in accordance with its interpretation of the Act and FNS regulations that the Secretary did not have authority to release this information. However, South Dakota's Argus Leader newspaper challenged this interpretation of the Act. In February of 2011, through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Argus Leader requested annual SNAP retailer redemption data for all SNAP authorized retailers for the six-year period spanning from 2005 through 2010. Though the initial FNS decision to withhold this data was upheld by the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota, on January 28, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued an opinion in favor of Argus Leader. The appeals court opinion contended that SNAP retailer redemption information did not fall within the withholding contemplated by Section 9(c) of the Act and therefore such information was not exempt from disclosure under Exemption 3 of FOIA. The Eighth Circuit decision did not address Exemption 4 of FOIA, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4), which exempts ``trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential'' from release under FOIA. FNS recognizes that, despite the decision on Section 9(c) of the Act, the Agency must also consider whether this redemption data constitutes confidential business information. To make a determination in this regard, FNS is required to solicit feedback from the submitters of the retailer transaction data. Request for Information: FNS' objective is twofold: (1) To meet FNS' obligations to solicit feedback from the submitters of retailer transaction data which is the subject of the litigation described above; and (2) to determine how to provide greater transparency, while remaining consistent with our legal obligations and reflecting input from the public. FNS will use this public input to inform FNS' response to the court decision and consideration of what, if any, adjustments should be made to SNAP regulations in the future. It is FNS' intent that any regulatory changes would govern the availability of data after the effective date of those regulations, and not be retroactive. FNS is seeking public input on the following questions: 1. Are aggregated annual SNAP redemption data at the individual store level confidential business information? If yes, please explain why the disclosure is likely to cause substantial competitive harm and fully explain all other grounds upon which you oppose the disclosure of such information. Also, please indicate whether the size of the retailer affects any identified competitive harm. 2. Are aggregated monthly SNAP redemption data at the individual store level confidential business information? If yes, please explain why the disclosure is likely to cause substantial competitive harm and fully explain all other grounds upon which you oppose the disclosure of such information. Also, please indicate whether the size of the retailer affects any identified competitive harm. 3. Should aggregated annual SNAP redemption data at the individual store level be released for transparency purposes? If yes, describe in detail why this data should be released for the purposes of transparency and public accountability, and specifically how this data would assist in the administration of the Food and Nutrition Act. If no, please provide details as to how release of this data would be counter to the administration and enforcement provisions of the Act. When considering the impact of the release of this data on the administration and enforcement provisions of the Act, please consider the effect, if any, on SNAP recipients. 4. Should aggregated monthly SNAP redemption data at the individual store level be released for transparency purposes? If yes, describe in detail why this data should be released for the purposes of transparency and public accountability, and specifically how this data would assist in the administration of the Food and Nutrition Act. If no, please provide details as to how release of this data would be counter to the administration and enforcement provisions of the Act. When considering the impact of the release of this data on the administration and enforcement provisions of the Act, please consider the effect, if any, on SNAP recipients. 5. For each of the above questions, how would answers differ if the monthly or annual aggregated data were for a retailer's aggregated sales at all stores within a state or nationally, as opposed to per- store data? Should any other aggregations be considered? Commenters who were SNAP-authorized retailers from 2005 through 2010 should make that fact clear in their comments.
Extension of Comment Period on the Proposed Directive on Groundwater Resource Management, Forest Service Manual 2560
The Forest Service published a notice in the Federal Register on May 6, 2014, initiating a 90-day comment period on the Proposed Directive on Groundwater Resource Management, Forest Service Manual 2560. The closing date for that 90-day comment period is August 4, 2014. The Agency is extending the comment period; therefore, the comment period has been extended to September 3, 2014.
Umatilla National Forest, Supervisor's Office; Oregon; Kahler Dry Forest Restoration Project
The USDA, Forest Service will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze impacts for vegetative treatment in the Kahler Creek area of the Heppner Ranger District of the Umatilla National Forest. The district has started an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project, but has determined that an Environmental Impact Statement would be more appropriate for this project. Scoping for the EA was open for 30 days in March 2013 and numerous comments were received from the public. These comments were used to form the issues for the EA, and these issues will be carried over to the EIS.
Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is amending its regulations concerning Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement to incorporate statutory changes to section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRIA) that were effected when the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (FCEA) was signed into law on June 18, 2008. USDA is also announcing that an additional rulemaking activity will be initiated to further amend the Guidelines to address the provisions of the recently signed Agricultural Act of 2014.
Common Crop Insurance Regulations; Macadamia Tree Crop Insurance Provisions and Macadamia Nut Crop Insurance Provisions
The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) proposes to amend the Common Crop Insurance Regulations, Macadamia Tree Crop Insurance Provisions and the Macadamia Nut Crop Insurance Provisions to remove the provision requiring an optional unit to contain at least 80 acres. The intended effect of this action is to provide policy changes and to better meet the needs of the producers. The changes will apply for the 2016 and succeeding crop years for macadamia trees and the 2017 and succeeding crop years for macadamia nuts.
Changes to Existing Conservation Program Regulations
The Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Act) made several, nondiscretionary changes to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation programs. These conservation programs have existing regulations that require adjustments, including addressing the required review of operating procedures of the State Technical Committee, adding reference of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act program regulations, adding reference of the RCPP to, and expanding the definition of, ``acreage owned by Indian Tribes'' under the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP), revising and simplifying the Regional Equity provision, and adjusting the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program to correspond with changes to payment provisions under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Additionally, the Secretary of Agriculture has delegated to NRCS administrative responsibility for implementation of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP) and internal NRCS administrative changes warrant updating the appropriate delegated official in the technical service provider (TSP) provision. This interim rule, with request for comments, implements changes to these NRCS conservation program regulations that are either necessitated by enactment of the 2014 Act or are required to implement administrative streamlining improvements and clarifications.