[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 165 (Thursday, August 27, 2009)]
[Pages 43665-43669]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-20639]



Farm Service Agency

Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) To Invite Applications for 
the American Indian Credit Outreach Initiative

AGENCY: Farm Service Agency, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is requesting applications for 
competitive cooperative agreement funds for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 for 
the credit outreach initiative targeted to American Indian farmers, 
ranchers, and youth residing primarily on Indian reservations within 
the contiguous United States. Subject to the availability of 
appropriations, FSA anticipates the availability of up to $1,135,000 in 
funding and the award to one successful applicant through a Cooperative 
Agreement. This request for applications is being made prior to passage 
of an FY 2010 appropriations bill to allow applicants sufficient time 
to submit proposals, give the Agency maximum time to process 
applications, and permit continuity of this program. There is no 
certainty that there will be appropriated funds to fund these 
applications, so applicants submitting applications prior to the 
availability of appropriated funds do so at the risk that there may be 
no funding. FSA requests proposals from eligible nonprofit 
organizations, land-grant institutions, and federally-recognized Indian 
tribal governments interested in a competitively-awarded cooperative 
agreement to create and implement a mechanism that will provide credit 
outreach and promotion, pre-loan education, and one-on-one loan 
application preparation assistance to American Indian farmers, 
ranchers, and youth. Successful proposals may include other innovative 
services intended to enhance participation by American Indians in 
specific FSA Agricultural Credit Programs.

DATES: Applications must be completed and submitted to the Agency no 
later than 5 p.m. eastern time September 28, 2009. Late applications 
will not be accepted and will be returned to the applicant. Applicants 
must ensure that the service used to deliver the application can do so 
by the deadline. Due to security concerns, packages sent to the Agency 
by mail have been delayed several days or even weeks.

ADDRESSES: Submit applications and other required materials by mail to: 
Mike Hill, Director, Outreach Staff, Farm Service Agency, USDA, STOP 
0511, Suite 508 Portals Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., 
Washington, DC 20250-0511.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Hill, (202) 690-1098; e-mail: 
[email protected].


Purpose of Solicitation

    This solicitation is issued under 7 U.S.C. 2204b (b)(4), which 
authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to enter into cooperative 
agreements to improve the coordination and effectiveness of Federal 
programs affecting rural areas. The principal objective of this 
cooperative agreement is to continue a national outreach program that 
enables American Indian farmers, ranchers, and youth primarily located 
on Indian reservations in the contiguous United States to understand 
and have access to the various FSA Agriculture Credit Programs.

Proposal Requirements

    All proposed approaches must include a plan for how the project 
will have the following capabilities in place within three months after 
acceptance of award:
    (1) A data tracking system that records and tracks all project 
credit outreach activities and has the ability to provide detailed 
statistical information on an ad hoc basis, that must also be 
functional on a real-time basis as well as being available online 
through the Internet, and
    (2) The demonstrated ability to deliver these credit outreach 
services utilizing the FSA online Farm Business Plan software program.
    Proposals must demonstrate innovative and unique ways of ensuring 
that American Indians have improved access to FSA Agricultural Credit 
Programs through targeted outreach activities including targeted 
promotional campaigns, educational

[[Page 43666]]

programs, general information dissemination, and one-on-and one 


    Today, American Indians own and control approximately 66 million 
acres of agricultural lands held in trust by the United States 
Government and administered, for the most part, by the Bureau of Indian 
Affairs (BIA) of the Department of the Interior. Land-based 
agricultural enterprises are considered the primary source of revenue 
for most tribes, due in large part to their geographical isolation from 
any urban type industrial development activities. Thus, protecting this 
resource and utilizing it effectively is an important function of the 
elected tribal officials charged with operating business activities 
that take place within reservations.
    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides farmers 
and ranchers technical, financial, and educational resources. American 
Indian agricultural producers on reservations have historically been 
less able to benefit from USDA services than other farmers and 
ranchers. Since 1987, Congress has enacted Federal laws, such as the 
recent Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-246, 
2008 Farm Bill), to address American Indians (and other socially 
disadvantaged farmers and ranchers) lack of access to USDA's programs 
and services; this has resulted in beginning to close some of the gaps 
in access to these programs and services. As positive as these changes 
are, they have not fully addressed an implementation plan or the funds 
needed to carry out implementation of sorely needed agribusiness 
education and direct services to American Indian Reservation farmers 
and ranchers.
    American Indian agribusinesses, as well as individual Indians, have 
consistently reported that the primary need in Indian agriculture is 
access to the capital required to own and operate their own farms or 
ranches. Therefore, FSA has created and implemented this cooperative 
funding mechanism to provide credit outreach and other related training 
and assistance services related to FSA's Agricultural Credit Programs, 
subject to funding, as a way to resolve some of the credit needs of 
Indian agriculture.


    The following definitions are applicable to this Notice.
    Agency or FSA. The United States Department of Agriculture Farm 
Service Agency.
    Farm land. Land used for commercial agriculture crops, poultry and 
livestock enterprises, or aquaculture.
    Federally-Recognized Indian Tribal Government. The governing body 
or a governmental agency of any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other 
organized group or community (including any Native village as defined 
in section 3 of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 
1602) certified by the Secretary of the Interior as eligible for the 
special programs and services provided through the Bureau of Indian 
    Land Grant Institutions.
    (1) A 1994 institution (as defined in section 2 of the Agricultural 
Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998 (7 U.S.C. 7601)), 
or an 1890 institution.
    (2) An Indian tribal community college or an Alaska Native 
cooperative college.
    (3) A Hispanic-serving institution (as defined in section 1404 of 
the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act 
of 1977 (7 U.S.C. 3103)).
    Non-Profit Organization. Any corporation, trust, association, 
cooperative, or other organization that:
    (1) Is operated primarily for scientific, educational, service, 
charitable, or similar purposes in the public interest;
    (2) Is not organized primarily for profit; and
    (3) Is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as being 
certified as 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 

Recipient Eligibility Requirements

    Applicants must either be a non-profit organization, a Federally 
recognized Indian tribe, or a land grant institution as defined above. 
Applications without sufficient information to determine eligibility 
will not be considered.

Proposal Preparation

    A proposal must contain an original and two copies of the following 
(Contact Mike Hill (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT above) if you 
need help getting the forms):
    1. Form SF-424, ``Application for Federal Assistance.''
    2. Form SF-424A, ``Budget Information--Non-Construction Programs.''
    3. Form SF-424B, ``Assurances--Non-Construction Programs.''
    4. Table of Contents. For ease of locating information, each 
proposal must contain a detailed Table of Contents immediately 
following the required Federal forms. The Table of Contents should 
include page numbers for each component of the proposal. Pagination 
should begin immediately following the Table of Contents.
    5. Proposal Summary. A summary of the project proposal, not to 
exceed one page, that includes the title of the project, a description 
of the project (including goals and tasks to be accomplished), the 
names of the individuals responsible for conducting and completing the 
tasks, and the expected time frame for completing all tasks (which 
should not exceed twelve months).
    6. Eligibility. A detailed discussion, not to exceed two pages, 
describing how the applicant meets the definition of land grant 
institution, non-profit organization, or Federally recognized Indian 
tribal government. In addition, the applicant must describe all other 
collaborative organizations that may be involved in the project.
    7. Proposal Narrative. The narrative portion of the project 
proposal must be in a font such as Times New Roman (12 pt.) or 
comparable font and must include the following:
    (a) Project Title. The title of the proposed project must be brief, 
not to exceed 100 characters, yet represent the major thrust of the 
    (b) Information Sheet. A separate one page information sheet that 
lists each of the seven evaluation criteria listed in this NOFA (see 
the ``Evaluation Criteria and Weights'' section below) followed by the 
page numbers of all relevant material and documentation contained in 
the proposal that address or support that criteria.
    (c) Goals and Objectives of the Project. A clear statement of the 
ultimate goals and objectives of the project must be presented.
    (d) Evaluation Criteria. Each of the seven evaluation criteria 
listed in this NOFA (see the ``Evaluation Criteria and Weights'' 
section below) must be addressed specifically and individually by 
category. These criteria should be in narrative form with any specific 
supporting documentation attached as addenda and should be placed 
directly following the proposal narrative. If other materials, 
including financial statements, will be used to support any evaluation 
criteria it should also be placed directly following the proposal 
narrative. The applicant must also propose and delineate significant 
agency participation in the project.

Amount of Award

    The amount of funds expected to be available for FY 2010 is up to 
$1,135,000 although as noted above, the availability of funding is 
subject to appropriations for fiscal year 2010 and

[[Page 43667]]

there is no assurance there will be sufficient or any appropriations 
for this purpose. If actual funding differs from this amount, the 
Agency will publish a separate Notice of Funds Availability. Expenses 
incurred in developing applications will be at the applicant's risk.

Number of Awards

    Only one cooperative agreement will be awarded.

Eligible Cooperative Agreement Fund Uses

    Cooperative agreement funds may be used to cover allowable costs 
incurred by the recipient and approved by the Agency. Allowable costs 
are governed by 7 CFR parts 3015, 3016, and 3019, as applicable, and 
applicable Office of Management and Budget Circulars.

Ineligible Fund Uses

    Cooperative agreement funds must not be used to:
    (1) Plan, repair, rehabilitate, acquire, or construct a building or 
facility (including a processing facility);
    (2) Purchase, rent, or install fixed equipment, including mobile 
and other processing equipment;
    (3) Pay for the preparation of the cooperative agreement 
    (4) Pay expenses not directly related to the funded venture (for 
example, cooperative agreement funds cannot be used to support the 
organization's general operations);
    (5) Fund political or lobbying activities;
    (6) Pay costs incurred prior to receiving this Cooperative 
    (7) Fund any activity prohibited by 7 CFR parts 3015, 3016, and 
3019, as applicable; and
    (8) Fund architectural or engineering design work for a specific 
physical facility.

Evaluation Criteria, Proposal Review

    A National Office panel of USDA employees will review applications 
for eligibility, completeness, and responsiveness to this NOFA. 
Incomplete or non-responsive applications will be returned to the 
applicant and not evaluated further. If the submission deadline has not 
expired and time permits, ineligible applications may be returned to 
the applicants for possible revision.
    The proposal will be evaluated using the criteria specified below. 
Failure to address any one of the criteria will disqualify the 
application. All proposals must be in compliance with this NOFA and 
applicable statutes.
    Prior to technical examination, a preliminary review will be made 
by FSA Outreach Staff for responsiveness to this solicitation. 
Proposals that do not fall within the solicitation guidelines or are 
otherwise ineligible will be eliminated from competition. All 
responsive proposals will be reviewed by a panel of reviewers using the 
evaluation criteria stated below. The selected USDA employee reviewers 
will be chosen to provide maximum expertise and objective judgment in 
the evaluation of proposals. Evaluated proposals will be ranked by the 
FSA Outreach Staff based on the evaluation criteria and weights listed 
below. Final approval of those proposals will be made by the 
Administrator of FSA, subject to the availability of funding.

Evaluation Criteria and Weights

    All responsive proposals will be reviewed based on the following 
seven criteria:
    (1) Applicant's Commitment and Resources (15 points). The standard 
evaluates the degree to which the organization is committed to the 
project, and the experience, qualifications, competency, and 
availability of personnel and resources to direct and carry out the 
project. In addition, the applicant must demonstrate its ability to 
deliver credit outreach services utilizing the FSA online Farm Business 
Plan software program within 3 months after acceptance of any financial 
    (2) Feasibility and Policy Consistency (20 points). The standard 
evaluates the degree to which the proposal clearly describes its 
objectives and evidences a high level of feasibility. This criterion 
relates to the adequacy and soundness of the proposed approach to the 
solution of the problem and evaluates the plan of operation, timetable, 
evaluation, and dissemination plans.
    (3) Detailed Description of Collaborative Partnerships, if any, and 
Program Recipients (20 points). This standard evaluates the degree to 
which the proposal reflects partnerships and collaborative initiatives 
with other agencies or organizations to enhance the quality and 
effectiveness of the program. Additionally, the areas and number of 
underserved American Indian farmers, ranchers, and youth who would 
benefit from the services offered will be evaluated.
    (4) Outreach to Socially Disadvantaged American Indian Applicants 
(10 points). This standard evaluates the degree to which the proposal 
contains detailed programs to reach persons identified as socially 
disadvantaged American Indian farmers, ranchers, and youth. The 
proposal will be evaluated for its potential for encouraging and 
assisting socially disadvantaged American Indian farmers, ranchers, and 
youth to utilize the various FSA agriculture credit programs. Elements 
considered include impact, continuation plans, innovation, and expected 
products and results.
    (5) Innovative Strategies (25 points). This standard evaluates the 
degree to which the proposal reflects innovative strategies for 
reaching the population targeted in the proposal and achieving the 
project objectives. This standard will also evaluate data tracking 
capability. For data tracking, the standard evaluates evidence that the 
applicant has the ability to put in place within 3 months of award a 
data tracking system that can record and track all credit outreach 
activities and the ability to provide detailed statistical information 
on an ad hoc basis, with additional evidence supporting the system's 
ability to function on a real-time basis as well its ability to be 
available online through the Internet. For innovative solutions, the 
standard evaluates originality, practicality, and creativity in 
proposing ways to develop and test innovative solutions to existing or 
anticipated credit issues or problems of socially disadvantaged 
American Indian farmers, ranchers, and youth. The proposal will be 
reviewed for its responsiveness to the need to provide socially 
disadvantaged American Indian farmers, ranchers, and youth with 
promotion, relevant information, and direct assistance in applying for 
and receiving FSA agriculture credit, and other essential information 
to enhance participation in agricultural programs and conduct a 
successful farming or ranching operation.
    (6) Overall Quality of the Proposal (5 points). This standard 
evaluates the degree to which the proposal complies with this NOFA and 
is of high quality. Elements considered include adherence to 
instructions, accuracy and completeness of forms, clarity and 
organization of ideas, thoroughness and sufficiency of detail in the 
budget narrative, specificity of allocations between targeted areas if 
the proposal addresses more than one area, and completeness of vitae 
for all key personnel associated with the project.
    (7) Accuracy of Proposed Budget and Justification (5 points). This 
standard evaluates the accuracy of the proposed budget and the 
accompanying budget justification. The proposed budget should provide a 
detailed description of each budget category that includes categorical 
subtotals as well as a separate budget justification that clearly 
defines and explains each and every proposed budget line item.

[[Page 43668]]

Selection Process

    When the reviewers have completed their individual evaluations, the 
panel reviewers, based on the individual reviews, will make a 
recommendation to the Administrator that one responsive proposal be 
approved for support from available funds. Prior to award, the 
Administrator reserves the right to negotiate with an applicant whose 
project is recommended for funding regarding project revisions (for 
example, change in scope of work or the Agency's significant 
involvement), funding level, or period of support. A proposal may be 
withdrawn at any time before a final funding decision is made.

Cooperative Agreement Awards

    Within the limit of funds available for such purpose, the 
Administrator will enter into a cooperative agreement with the 
successful applicant. The date specified by the Administrator as the 
effective date of the award will not be later than 12 months after the 
project is approved for support and funds are appropriated for such 
purpose, unless otherwise permitted by law.

When to Submit an Application

    The deadline for receipt of all applications is 5 p.m. eastern time 
September 28, 2009. The Agency will not accept any application received 
after the deadline.

Cooperator Requirements

    Cooperators will be required to do the following:
     Sign required Federal assistance forms including:
    [cir] Form AD-1047, Certification Regarding Debarment, Suspension, 
and Other Responsibility Matters--Primary Covered Transactions;
    [cir] Form AD-1048, Certification Regarding Debarment, Suspension, 
Ineligibility and Voluntary Exclusion--Lower Tier Covered Transactions;
    [cir] Form AD-1049, Certification Regarding a Drug-Free Workplace 
Requirements (Grants); and
    [cir] Form RD 400-4, Assurance Agreement (Civil Rights).
     Use Standard Form 270, Request for Advance or 
Reimbursement to request payments.
     Submit a Standard Form 269, Financial Status Report, and 
list expenditures according to agreed upon budget categories on a semi-
annual basis. A semi-annual financial report is due within 45 days 
after the first 6-month project period and an annual financial report 
is due within 60 days after the second 6-month project period.
     Submit quarterly performance reports that compare 
accomplishments to the objectives; if established objectives are not 
met, discuss problems, delays, or other problems that may affect 
completion of the project; establish objectives for the next reporting 
period; and discuss compliance with any special conditions on the use 
of awarded funds.
     Maintain a financial management system that is acceptable 
to the Agency.
     Submit a final project performance report.
     Sign an agency approved cooperative agreement (an example 
of which is provided at the end of this notice).

Other Federal Statutes and Regulations That Apply

    In addition to the requirements provided in this notice, other 
Federal statutes and regulations apply to proposals considered for 
review and to our cooperative agreement awarded. These include, but are 
not limited to:
     7 CFR part 15, subpart A, Nondiscrimination in Federally-
Assisted Programs of the Department of Agriculture--Effectuation of 
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
     7 CFR part 3015, Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations;
     7 CFR parts 3016, Uniform Administrative Requirements for 
Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments, as 
     7 CFR part 3017, Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension 
     7 CFR part 3018, New Restrictions on Lobbying;
     7 CFR part 3019, Uniform Administrative Requirements for 
Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, 
and Other Non-profit Organizations, as applicable;
     7 CFR part 3021, Governmentwide Requirements for Drug-Free 
Workplace (Financial Assistance); and
     7 CFR part 3052, Audits of States, Local Governments, and 
Non-Profit Organizations.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply to this NOFA because the 
program does not receive applications from more than 10 persons covered 
by the 5 CFR 1320.3(c).

    Signed in Washington, DC, on August 21, 2009.
Jonathan W. Coppess,
Administrator, Farm Service Agency.

United States Department of Agriculture
Farm Service Agency
Cooperative Agreement--American Indian Outreach Initiative
    This Cooperative Agreement (Agreement) dated------------, between 
---------------- (Cooperator), and the United States of America, acting 
through the Farm Service Agency of the Department of Agriculture (the 
Agency), for $ ---------------- in cooperative agreement funds under 
the program, delineates the agreement of the parties.
    Now, therefore, in consideration of the Agreement;
    The parties agree that:
    (1) All the terms and provisions of the Notice entitled ``Notice of 
Funds Availability (NOFA) Inviting Applications for the American Indian 
Credit Outreach Initiative,'' published in the Federal Register on 
August 27, 2009 and the application submitted by the Cooperator for 
this Agreement, including any attachments or amendments, are 
incorporated and included as part of this Agreement. Any changes to 
these documents or this agreement must be approved in writing by the 
    (2) As a condition of the Agreement, the Cooperator certifies that 
it is in compliance with and will comply in the course of the Agreement 
with all applicable laws, regulations, Executive Orders, and other 
generally applicable requirements, including those contained in 7 CFR 
3015.205(b), which are incorporated into this agreement by reference, 
and such other statutory provisions as are specifically contained 
herein. The Cooperator will comply with title VI of the Civil Rights 
Act of 1964, section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and 
Executive Order 12250.
    (3) The provisions of 7 CFR part 3015, Uniform Federal Assistance 
Regulations, and 7 CFR part 3019, Uniform Administrative Requirements 
for Grants and Agreements with institutions of Higher Education, 
Hospitals, and Other Nonprofit Organizations, as applicable, are 
incorporated herein and made a part hereof by reference.
    Further, the Cooperator agrees that it will:
    (1) Not use cooperative agreement funds to plan, repair, 
rehabilitate, acquire, or construct a building or facility (including a 
processing facility); or to purchase, rent, or install fixed equipment.
    (2) Use funds only for the purpose and activities specified in the 
proposal approved by the Agency including the approved budget. Any uses 
not provided for in the approved budget must be approved in writing by 
the Agency in advance of obligation by the Agency.
    (3) Submit a Standard Form 269, Financial Status Report and list 
expenditures according to agreed upon budget categories on a semi-

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basis. Reports are due by April 30 and October 30 after the cooperative 
agreement is awarded.
    (4) Provide periodic reports as required by the Agency. A financial 
status report and a project performance report will be required on a 
semi-annual basis. The financial status report must show how 
cooperative agreement funds have been used to date and project the 
funds needed and their purposes for the next quarter. A final report 
may serve as the last semi-annual report. Cooperators must constantly 
monitor performance to ensure that time schedules are being met and 
projected goals by time periods are being accomplished. The project 
performance reports must include the following:
    a. A comparison of actual accomplishments to the objectives for 
that period.
    b. Reasons why established objectives were not met, if applicable.
    c. Reasons for any problems, delays, or adverse conditions which 
will affect attainment of overall program objectives, prevent meeting 
time schedules or objectives, or preclude the attainment of particular 
objectives during established time periods. This disclosure must be 
accomplished by a statement of the action taken or planned to resolve 
the situation.
    d. Objectives and timetables established for the next reporting 
    e. The final report will also address the following:
    (i) What have been the most challenging or unexpected aspects of 
this program?
    (ii) What advice you would give to other organizations planning a 
similar program? These should include strengths and limitations of the 
program. If you had the opportunity, what would you have done 
    (iii) If an innovative approach was used successfully, the 
cooperator should describe their program in detail so that other 
organizations might consider replication in their areas.
    5. Provide Financial Management Systems which will include:
    a. Records that identify adequately the source and application of 
funds for cooperative agreement supported activities. Those records 
must contain information pertaining to grant and cooperative agreement 
awards and authorizations, obligations, unobligated balances, assets, 
liabilities, outlays, and income.
    b. Effective control over and accountability for all funds, 
property, and other assets. Cooperator must adequately safeguard all 
such assets and ensure that they are used solely for authorized 
    c. Accounting records supported by source documentation.
    6. Retain financial records, supporting documents, statistical 
records, and all other records pertinent to the cooperative agreement 
for a period of at least 3 years after closing, except that the records 
must be retained beyond the 3-year period if audit findings have not 
been resolved. Microfilm or photocopies or similar methods may be 
substituted in lieu of original records. The Agency and the Comptroller 
General of the United States, or any of their duly authorized 
representatives, must have access to any books, documents, papers, and 
records of the Cooperator that are pertinent to the specific 
cooperative agreement program for the purpose of making audits, 
examinations, excerpts, and transcripts.
    7. Not encumber, transfer, or dispose of the equipment or any part 
thereof, acquired wholly or in part with Agency funds without the 
written consent of the Agency.
    8. Not duplicate other program purposes for which monies have been 
received, are committed, or are applied to from other sources (public 
or private).
    9. Immediately refund to the Agency, at the end of the Agreement, 
any balance of unobligated funds received from the Agency.
    The Agency agrees that it will:
    1. Assist in defraying the project cost by reimbursing or advancing 
to the Cooperator under this Agreement an amount not to exceed [Funding 
Amount $XX]. The funds will be reimbursed or advanced in accordance 
with applicable Federal regulations based on submission to the Agency 
by the Cooperator of a complete Standard Form 270.
    2. Monitor the program as it is being implemented and operated.
    3. Evaluate the performance reports submitted by the Cooperator and 
recommend revisions where necessary.
    4. Halt activity, after written notice, if project objectives are 
not met.
    5. Identify USDA points of contact to address program questions.
    Authorized and executed this day




[FR Doc. E9-20639 Filed 8-26-09; 8:45 am]