[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 237 (Tuesday, December 10, 2019)]
[Pages 67424-67425]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-26565]



Food and Nutrition Service

Request for information: Self-Determination Demonstration Project 
for Tribes That Administer the Food Distribution Program on Indian 

AGENCY: Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA.

ACTION: Notice; request for information


SUMMARY: This is a Request for Information to help the Secretary of the 
U.S. Department of Agriculture (the Secretary or USDA) develop the 
additional criteria, as authorized in the Agriculture Improvement Act 
of 2018, for a self-determination demonstration project related to the 
purchase of agricultural commodities for the Food Distribution Program 
on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). USDA requests feedback from Indian 
Tribal Organizations (ITOs) and State agencies that administer FDPIR, 
Tribal leaders and representatives, and Tribal associations. This 
notice is not a request for proposal and does not commit the Government 
to issue a solicitation, make an award, or pay any costs associated 
with responding to this announcement. All submitted information shall 
remain with the Government and will not be returned. All responses will 
become part of the public record and will not be held confidential.
    USDA received authority in section 4003(b) of the Agriculture 
Improvement Act of 2018 (Pub. L. 115-334, the 2018 Farm Bill) to 
establish a demonstration project for one or more Tribal 
Organization(s) administering FDPIR to enter into self-determination 
contracts to purchase agricultural commodities (which are hereafter 
referred to as ``food(s)'') for the FDPIR food package for their Indian 
Tribe. These Tribally purchased foods will be issued to FDPIR 
participants in lieu of similar USDA Foods available in the FDPIR food 
package. The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes up to $5 million to remain 
available until expended to carry out this demonstration project; 
however, availability of funds is subject to Congressional 
    The objective of this Request for Information is to receive 
feedback to assist USDA in developing the process and criteria for 
determining if a FDPIR Tribal Organization is eligible for a self-
determination demonstration project contract, as specified in the 2018 
Farm Bill under Section 4003(b)(3). USDA invites comments on specific 
questions included in this Request for Information (see SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION) and welcomes comments from those involved in the 
administration of FDPIR, Tribal leaders and representatives, and Tribal 
associations. USDA will use the comments in response to this Request 
for Information to inform the competitive process for entering into a 
self-determination contract(s) as required by Section 4003(b)(2) of the 
2018 Farm Bill, upon receipt of Congressional appropriations.

DATES: To be assured of consideration, written comments must be 
submitted or postmarked on or before February 10, 2020.

ADDRESSES: The Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, invites the submission 
of the requested information through one of the following methods:
     Preferred method: Submit information through the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online 
instructions for submissions.
     Mail: Submissions should be addressed to Erica Antonson, 
Branch Chief, Food Distribution Division, Food and Nutrition Service, 
U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1320 Braddock Place, Alexandria, VA 
     Email: Send comments to [email protected] with a subject 
line ``FDPIR: RFI 638 Demonstration Project''.

[[Page 67425]]

    All information properly and timely submitted, using one of the 
three methods described above and in response to this request for 
information, will be included in the record and will be made available 
to the public on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Please be 
advised that the substance of the information provided and the identity 
of the individuals or entities submitting it will be subject to public 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information or 
copies of this request for information should be directed to [email protected].


I. Background

Program Information

    FDPIR provides USDA Foods to income-eligible households living on 
Indian reservations, and to American Indian households residing in 
approved areas near reservations and in Oklahoma. The Food and 
Nutrition Service (FNS), an agency of USDA, administers FDPIR at the 
Federal level. The program is administered locally by either ITOs or an 
agency of a State government. ITOs and State agencies, known as FDPIR 
administering agencies, store and distribute the foods, determine 
applicant eligibility, and provide nutrition education to recipients. 
FNS provides FDPIR administering agencies with funds for program 
administrative costs.
    FNS has an agreement with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), 
another agency of USDA, and the Department of Defense's Defense 
Logistics Agency (DLA) to buy food for the FDPIR program. Eligible 
households may choose from over 100 nutritious, domestically produced 
items across a variety of categories including meat/poultry, dairy, 
grains, and fruits/vegetables to make up a monthly food package 
benefit. In recent years, FNS has also worked to expand the 
availability of traditional foods as part of the food package, 
including bison, wild rice, wild salmon, catfish, and blue cornmeal. In 
addition, most FDPIR programs receive a variety of fresh produce as 
part of the food package. FNS also works closely with the Food Package 
Review Work Group, a work group comprised of Tribal representatives and 
Tribal nutritionists, to review the FDPIR food package on an ongoing 
basis with the goal of revising it to better meet the nutritional needs 
and food preferences of program participants. As of FY 2019, there are 
approximately 276 tribes receiving benefits under FDPIR through 102 
ITOs and 3 State agencies. The program serves approximately 85,000 
participants on an average monthly basis.

II. 2018 Farm Bill

    Section 4003(b) of the 2018 Farm Bill authorizes a demonstration 
project for one or more Tribal Organization(s) within the FDPIR to 
enter into self-determination contracts to procure foods to supplant 
FDPIR foods purchased by USDA for their Indian Tribe. Self-
determination contracts are also known as 638 Contracts in reference to 
Public Law 93-638, the Indian Self-Determination and Education 
Assistance Act. This authority allows Tribal Organizations to take on a 
larger administrative role in delivering federally funded services and 
to have more control over the governmental affairs of their 
Organizations, fostering further self-governance. The 2018 Farm Bill 
provision under Section 4003(b) supports Tribal Organization self-
governance by specifically allowing Tribal Organizations to procure 
foods instead of USDA.
    The 2018 Farm Bill specifically provides the following on Tribal 
Organization eligibility and procurement of foods for this 
demonstration project:

Tribal Organization Eligibility (Section 4003(b)(3)(B))

     A Tribal Organization(s) must be successfully 
administering FDPIR;
     A Tribal Organization(s) must have capacity to purchase 
agricultural foods following the criteria listed under Procurement of 
Agricultural Commodities in section 4003(b)(4) below; and
     A Tribal Organization(s) must meet any other criteria 
determined by the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of 
Interior and Indian tribes.

Procurement of Agricultural Commodities (Section 4003(b)(4))

     A Tribal Organization(s) must be able to procure foods 
that are domestically produced for this demonstration project;
     Food(s) selected for this demonstration project will 
supplant, not supplement, the type of agricultural food(s) currently 
available in the FDPIR food package;
     Food(s) selected for this demonstration project must be of 
similar or higher nutritional value than the food(s) it is supplanting 
in the existing FDPIR food package; and
     Food(s) selected for this demonstration project must meet 
any other criteria determined by the Secretary.
    The specific requirements noted above will inform which Tribal 
Organization(s) are eligible to participate in the demonstration 
project. Eligible Tribal Organizations will have an opportunity to 
apply for participation based on a process to be determined and 
informed by answers to the questions below.

III. Questions

    USDA requests that commenters respond in detail to any or all of 
the items below to help inform who may be eligible for a self-
determination contract under Section 4003(b) of the 2018 Farm Bill. 
Please provide any material that addresses the information requested or 
any other information that may be pertinent. USDA will consider 
comments that may require regulatory changes. Additional references or 
links to materials are welcome.
    1. What process should be used to determine which Tribal 
Organizations should be selected to participate in this demonstration 
project given that project funds are limited?
    2. What, if any, additional criteria should be established for a 
Tribal Organization to be considered eligible to participate in this 
demonstration project?
    3. What factors should be considered in determining whether a 
Tribal Organization has the capacity to purchase agricultural foods for 
this demonstration project?
    4. Are there any specific criteria that should be given priority in 
the selection process?

    Dated: December 5, 2019.
Pamilyn Miller,
Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service.
[FR Doc. 2019-26565 Filed 12-9-19; 8:45 am]