Announcement of Solicitation of Applications and Grant Application Deadlines
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), announces its Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program application window for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 subject to the availability of funding. This notice is being issued prior to passage of a final appropriations act to allow potential applicants time to submit proposals and give the Agency time to process applications within the current fiscal year. RUS will publish a subsequent notice identifying the amount received in the final appropriations act, if any. Expenses incurred in developing applications will be at the applicant's risk. For FY 2010, Congress appropriated approximately $30 million. In addition to announcing the application window, RUS announces the minimum and maximum amounts for DLT grants applicable for the fiscal year and a change in scoring necessitated by changes in the Empowerment Zone (EZ), Enterprise Community (EC) and Champion Community (CC) designations. Finally, the Agency notes that the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-234) expressly added the category of libraries under Sec. 2333 (c)(1) of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. Sec. 950aaa-2(a)(1)) in order to clearly establish that libraries are eligible to be recipients of DLT Loans and Grants. This confirms the longstanding Agency policy of considering libraries to be eligible entities under the DLT Program. The regulation for the DLT Grant Program can be found at 7 CFR part 1703, subpart E.
Value-Added Producer Grant Program
The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the Act), amends section 231 of the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000, which established the Value-Added Producer Grant Program. This program will be administered by the Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Under the interim rule, grants will be made to help eligible producers of agricultural commodities enter into or expand value-added activities including the development of feasibility studies, business plans, and marketing strategies. The program will also provide working capital for expenses such as implementing an existing viable marketing strategy. The Agency will implement the program to meet the goals and requirements of the Act. The program provides a priority for funding for projects that contribute to opportunities for beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, and operators of small- and medium- sized family farms and ranches. Further, it creates two reserved funds each of which will include 10 percent of program funds each year to support applications that support opportunities for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and for proposed projects that develop mid-tier value marketing chains.
Biorefinery Assistance Guaranteed Loans
This interim rule establishes a guaranteed loan program for the development and construction of commercial-scale biorefineries and for the retrofitting of existing facilities using eligible technology for the development of advanced biofuels.
Repowering Assistance Payments to Eligible Biorefineries
The Rural Business-Cooperative Service (Agency) is establishing the Repowering Assistance Program authorized under the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. Under this Program, the Agency will make payments to eligible biorefineries to encourage the use of renewable biomass as a replacement fuel source for fossil fuels used to provide process heat or power in the operation of eligible biorefineries.
Advanced Biofuel Payment Program
The Rural Business-Cooperative Service (Agency) is establishing the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program authorized under the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. Under this Program, the Agency will enter into contracts with advanced biofuel producers to pay such producers for the production of eligible advanced biofuels. To be eligible for payments, advanced biofuels must be produced from renewable biomass, excluding corn kernel starch, in a biofuel facility located in a State. In addition, this interim rule establishes new program requirements for applicants to submit applications for Fiscal Year 2010 payments for the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program. These new program requirements supersede the Notice of Contract Proposal (NOCP) for Payments to Eligible Advanced Biofuel Producers in its entirety.
Publication of Depreciation Rates
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), announces the depreciation rates for telecommunications plant for the period ending December 31, 2009.