Strategic Economic and Community Development
The Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Rural Housing Service, and Rural Utilities Service, of the Rural Development (RD) mission area within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), hereinafter collectively referred to as the Agency, is issuing this final rule to implement statutory provisions found in Section 6401 of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (``2018 Farm Bill'') that amends Section 379H of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act. The intent of this rule is to amend the existing regulations governing Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD) to implement Section 6401 of the 2018 Farm Bill. Additionally, conforming changes are being made to other regulations as a result of the aforementioned statutory changes. Finally, we are removing Farm Service Agency from a chapter in the CFR as they no longer use any of the parts under that chapter.
Special Authority To Enable Funding of Broadband and Smart Utility Facilities Across Select Rural Development Programs
The Rural Utilities Service, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, and Rural Housing Service, agencies that comprise the Rural Development Mission Area within the United States Department of Agriculture, are issuing this final rule to establish the authority authorized by Section 6210 of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which will assist rural families and small businesses in gaining access to broadband service by permitting recipients of a loan, grant, or loan guarantee from RD to use up to 10 percent of the amount provided to construct broadband infrastructure in areas not served by minimum acceptable level of broadband service. This rule describes the procedures by which these agencies will consider projects eligible for special broadband authority.
Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA); Seafood Trade Relief Program (STRP)
The Seafood Trade Relief Program (STRP) provides payments to eligible commercial fishermen of seafood commodities that have been impacted by trade actions of foreign governments resulting in the loss of exports. This document announces the availability of STRP funds for eligible active commercial fishermen as specified in this document, consistent with the Presidential Memorandum issued on June 24, 2020, ``Protecting the United States Lobster Industry.'' The Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers STRP on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). Payments are for the purpose of expanding or aiding in the expansion of domestic markets for U.S. caught and sold seafood.
Information Collection Requests; Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Customer Feedback on the Farm Service Agency Service Delivery (0560-0286), and Certified State Mediation Program (0560-0165)
In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is requesting comments from all interested individuals and organizations associated with the extension of two information collection requests. The two collection requests are Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Customer Feedback on the Farm Service Agency Service Delivery (0560-0286), and Certified State Mediation Program (0560-0165). For Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Customer Feedback on FSA Service Delivery, this option is a fast track for approval to streamline the timing to implement certain types of surveys and related collection of information. FSA uses the approval to cover the instruments of collection (such as a survey, a window pop-up survey, a focus group, or a comment card), which are designed to get customer feedback on FSA service delivery for various programs. This request for approval broadly addresses FSA's need for information about what our customers think of our services so that we can improve service delivery; specific information collection activities will be incorporated into the approval as the need for the information is identified. For example, when we implement a new program and provide information about the services for the program on our website, we may provide a voluntary customer service questionnaire about how well the program is working for our customers, specifically within the area of customer service. FSA is requesting to increase the number of respondents in the fast track approval due to an anticipated increase in the number of customer respondents responding to customer service surveys that will be sent to a broader scope and greater number of FSA customers. For Certified State Mediation Program collection is necessary to ensure that the grant program is administered properly. The collection of information is used to determine whether participants meet the eligibility requirements to be a recipient of grant funds. Lack of adequate information to make the determination could result in the improper administration of Federal grant funds.