2018 farm bill Beginning and Minority Farmers Beginning Farmer beginning farmer and rancher development program BFRDP Farm Bill Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach FOTO Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program Section 2501 Tech

Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach ProgramNational Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Veteran and beginning farmers receive beginning farmer training. Photo credit: University of Arkansas

A Nearer Take a look at the 2018 Farm Invoice: Farming Alternatives Coaching and Outreach Program

February 19, 2019


Starting farmers and army veteran farmers take part in a talent constructing and coaching program. Photograph credit score: College of Arkansas

Editor’s Notice: That is the ultimate submit in a multi-part weblog collection digging deeper into a few of the brand new packages and insurance policies of the 2018 Farm Invoice. These posts element how the brand new farm invoice is probably going to influence core sustainable agriculture packages administered by the U.S. Division of Agriculture. Earlier posts targeted on: working lands conservation, native and regional meals techniques, and vitamin incentive and anti-hunger packages.

As farmers throughout the nation scour seed catalogs and start sketching out plans for the upcoming season, the U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA) is busy scouring the brand new farm invoice and understanding how you can get up the a whole lot of latest packages and insurance policies mandated by Congress. Included amongst these is the Farming Alternatives Coaching and Outreach (FOTO) Program, a brand new umbrella program designed to coordinate USDA coaching and outreach to starting, veteran, and socially deprived (SDA) farmers.

Because of the supply of $435 million in obligatory federal grant funding for FOTO over the subsequent ten years, this new program will be capable of completely shield starting and SD farmer assets. FOTO may even allow its element packages – the Starting Farmer and Rancher Improvement Program (BFRDP) and the Outreach and Help to Socially Deprived and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (aka “Part 2501”) – to raised serve their constituencies by establishing consistency in grant phrases, precedence for non-profit and community-based organizations, regional stability in funding, exterior peer assessment, and a cap on oblique prices for each BFRDP and 2501 grants.

There are, nevertheless,
some programmatic modifications which might be complicated to navigate. It’s important subsequently
that organizations serving starting and SD farmer communities perceive all of
the modifications mandated within the new farm invoice that may come as a part of FOTO, and
that they continue to be lively through the implementation course of.

On this submit, we take
a deeper dive into the brand new FOTO program, define what modifications are in retailer for
future grants, and spotlight key questions surrounding program implementation.

What’s
FOTO?

FOTO is a brand new initiative established within the 2018 Farm Invoice that
combines two of USDA’s flagship coaching and technical help packages for starting
and SD producers – BFRDP and Part 2501.

For over
a decade, BFRDP has served as the one federal grant program explicitly
devoted to coaching the subsequent era of farmers – together with veterans and
farmers of shade. The Part 2501 program is devoted to serving to our nation’s
traditionally underserved producers achieve entry to USDA credit score, commodity,
conservation and different packages and providers and has been serving these
communities for almost three many years.

Part
12301 of the Agriculture Enchancment Act
(aka “2018 Farm Invoice) establishes FOTO by combining the statutory authorities
for BFRDP and 2501 right into a single program (now situated inside the farm invoice’s
Miscellaneous Title). The broad function of FOTO is to “encourage and help
socially deprived farmers and ranchers, veteran farmers and ranchers, and
starting farmers and ranchers within the possession and operation of farms and
ranches by means of (1) schooling and coaching; and (2) equitable participation in
all agricultural packages of the Division” [7 U.S.C. 2279(b)].

Whereas consolidated in regulation, each BFRDP and Part 2501 will
keep their historic program integrity and proceed to be administered
individually. USDA’s Nationwide Institute of Meals and Agriculture (NIFA) will
proceed to manage BFRDP, and the Workplace of Partnerships and Public
Engagement (OPPE) will administer Part 2501.

The Nationwide Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) was a number one advocate for FOTO, and we have been happy to see that most of the enacted modifications to BFRDP and 2501 have been reflective of suggestions made in NSAC’s 2018 Farm Invoice Platform. Proposals from a number of marker payments championed by NSAC, together with the Starting Farmer and Rancher Alternative Act and Help Socially Deprived Farmers and Ranchers Act, have been additionally included within the remaining farm invoice.

Modifications to
the Starting Farmer and Rancher Improvement Program (BFRDP)

In
addition to offering obligatory funding for and streamlining BFRDP and Part
2501 beneath FOTO, the ultimate 2018 Farm Invoice additionally makes a number of essential
programmatic modifications to every.

As
a part of FOTO, a number of modifications to BFRDP’s grant priorities and procedures have
been modified (although the grant phrases are unchanged). For one, BFRDP will now place
a larger emphasis on tasks that help farm succession planning (included
as a brand new grant precedence) and farmland switch to new farmers. Particularly,
tasks might now be focused in the direction of retiring farmers and non-farming
landowners as long as the last word goal of the challenge is to extend
alternatives for starting farmers.

Further
modifications embrace:

  • Grantees might now be eligible to request a waiver to the
    matching funds requirement if their challenge targets an “underserved space or
    inhabitants.”
  • For grant tasks beneath $50,000, USDA is required to
    set up a simplified grant software course of.
  • Eligibility standards stay roughly the identical, although municipal
    businesses (in addition to federal, state, and tribal governments) have been added as
    eligible candidates.
  • Farmers should now be concerned in BFRDP undertaking design and
    implementation (included as a brand new analysis standards for grant proposals).

In
addition to those modifications, FOTO additionally provides some new elements to BFRDP. FOTO
expands BFRDP Instructional Workforce tasks (generally known as “EET grants”) to help not simply new farmer
curriculum improvement, but in addition the event of different kinds of instructional
packages and workshops, or coaching and technical help initiatives. These
might embrace, for instance, train-the-trainer initiatives for service suppliers
that work immediately with starting farmers.

FOTO additionally expands priorities for future BFRDP grants to incorporate elements on meals security and recordkeeping. With the approaching compliance dates surrounding new meals security laws (as mandated by the Meals Security Modernization Act – FSMA), this new give attention to starting farmer coaching packages that tackle meals security coaching will present a welcomed alternative to help this essential (and sometimes difficult) work of getting new farmers in control on meals security compliance.

The
new farm invoice additionally directs NIFA to solicit enter from starting, SD, and
veteran farmers – in addition to the USDA advisory committees that serve these
populations – to make sure BFRDP is absolutely assembly the wants of farmers. All different
elements of this system – together with cap on oblique prices, set-asides,
precedence for CBOs and NGOs – stay unchanged.

Modifications to
the Part 2501 Program

In
establishing FOTO, the brand new farm invoice additionally makes a number of modifications to the
underlying 2501 Program that improve this system’s transparency, accountability and
responsiveness to stakeholders.

One in every of
probably the most vital modifications is the requirement for USDA to manage the
program utilizing an exterior (somewhat than inner) peer evaluation course of. BFRDP
(and different packages administered by NIFA) use an exterior peer evaluate course of
so as to consider and advocate proposals for funding. Farmers, non-profit
organizations, extension brokers, in addition to former or potential grantees, are
eligible to serve on BFRDP’s peer evaluate panel. The peer evaluate panel is
charged with reviewing and making funding determinations for every submitted
proposal. Traditionally, Part 2501 has relied on USDA employees to evaluate and
consider funded purposes, slightly than exterior stakeholders. This “black
field” strategy has left farmers and organizations largely at the hours of darkness in phrases
of offering enter into the simplest methods and approaches to greatest
help farmers of shade.

Moreover,
the farm invoice establishes a brand new precedence for 2501 grants which might be led by
community-based and non-profit organizations with experience working with
socially deprived and veteran farmers. The invoice additionally requires regional
stability in Part 2501 grant funding. Just like modifications made to BFRDP, USDA
is now required to solicit enter from organizations and establishments serving
these communities to make sure that this system is aware of their wants.

In an
effort to raised streamline the 2 FOTO packages, the farm invoice additionally
establishes grant phrases for 2501 grants which might be in line with BFRDP grants.
No challenge can obtain greater than $250,000 per yr for a most of three
years, and the cap on oblique prices is 10 %.

Reporting
necessities on 2501 program actions are additionally expanded underneath FOTO. In
addition to requiring this system to report on the issues and obstacles
recognized by grantees in making an attempt to extend participation by socially
deprived farmers, it should now additionally report:

  • Variety of
    farms began, maintained, or improved because of 2501 grant funding; and
  • Actions
    taken by USDA and 2501 grantees to reinforce participation in agricultural
    packages by veteran and socially deprived farmers or ranchers, and the
    effectiveness of such actions.

Hopefully,
this info will assist to supply simpler outreach and technical
help packages and finally improve utilization of USDA packages by farmers
of colour and different underserved producer communities.

Funding Construction

In creating FOTO, the brand new farm invoice offers everlasting “baseline”
funding for each BFRDP and Part 2501 – a historic victory for starting
farmers and different underserved communities. This sends an essential sign that
long-term investments are wanted to make sure the success of the subsequent era
of farmers and to deal with systemic historic inequities in accessing assets.

In complete, the brand new farm invoice offers $435 million in obligatory funding for FOTO over the subsequent ten years, cut up equally between BFRDP and 2501. Preliminary funding begins at $30 million in fiscal years (FY) 2019 and 2020 ($15 million for every program). Whereas this represents a $5 million improve in funding for 2501 grants (in comparison with present ranges), it additionally means a $5 million lower in funding for BFRDP grants for the subsequent two funding cycles – growing competitors for restricted funding. The FY 2019 appropriations invoice just lately signed into regulation consists of a further $three million for Part 2501– bringing complete grant funding for FY 2019 to $18 million (almost double the quantity of funding obtainable the yr prior).

By FY
2021, every program may have $17.5 million in grant funding obtainable, $20
million in FY 2022, and funding will plateau for each packages at $25 million
per yr in FY 2023 and annually thereafter. Because of the farm invoice’s
designation of baseline funding, BFRDP and Part 2501 will not be at
danger of shutting down on the finish of every farm invoice cycle – a historic and
hard-won accomplishment.

Moreover, 5 % of annual funding for each BFRDP and 2501
shall be put aside for administration, outreach, and analysis – together with
administering the peer assessment panels and convening annual Challenge Director’s
conferences.

Along with obligatory farm invoice funding, Congress approved a further $50 million per yr in discretionary funding for FOTO. At NSAC’s annual convening final month, our members accepted FOTO as a prime funding precedence for the approaching yr. We’ll subsequently be working intently with our members and supporters throughout the nation to proceed growing funding for FOTO as a way to deliver BFRDP funding again to its historic ranges.

Rolling out FOTO: Implementation Outlook

At current, detailed timelines or plans for a way USDA will
implement FOTO are nonetheless unknown. Because of the current authorities shutdown, many
farm invoice implementation efforts have been delayed. We do, nevertheless, anticipate
that BFRDP and 2501 will largely be carried out and proceed to function a lot in
the identical means they did underneath the 2014 Farm Invoice.

Though delayed, we anticipate FY 2019 Requests for Purposes (RFAs)
to be launched later this spring. NIFA intends to carry a webinar as quickly because the
BFRDP RFA is launched, which can stroll stakeholders by means of main modifications and
reply any questions from potential candidates. Equally, we anticipate OPPE to
launch an RFA for the 2501 program, nevertheless, the timeline for that’s nonetheless
unsure.

Questions stay relating to how new authorities or features of the packages shall be
carried out – chief amongst them, the brand new exterior peer evaluate course of inside the
2501 program. No formal rulemaking is predicted for both program, and
info has but to be launched from USDA relating to how they may solicit
stakeholder enter on implementing the modifications made within the farm invoice.

What to Look ahead to As Implementation Strikes
Ahead 

There
are as but many unknowns relating to how USDA will transfer ahead in implementing
FOTO. Key questions that NSAC shall be watching (and weighing in on with USDA)
embrace:

How will
NIFA outline “underserved inhabitants or space” to ensure that BFRDP grantees to
request a waiver?  

In
our evaluate of obstacles to securing BFRDP grant funding, we have now heard time and
time once more how troublesome it may be for smaller and restricted capability non-profit
and community-based organizations to satisfy this system’s 25 % matching
funds requirement. Whereas we hoped the 2018 Farm Invoice would create consistency
with Part 2501 (which doesn’t require a match), Congress as an alternative offered a
waiver choice to the prevailing BFRDP match. NSAC urges NIFA to think about a
number of elements in figuring out whether or not or to not grant a waiver request,
together with giving precedence to non-profit and community-based organizations that
have restricted capability and/or are working with underserved communities.

What is going to
the simplified grant software seem like for BFRDP? 

Equally,
many non-profit organizations wrestle with the onerous and sometimes difficult
and time-consuming grant software course of for BFRDP grants. NSAC has for
years pushed NIFA to develop a extra streamlined and simplified course of for
non-profit and community-based organizations, who typically lack a devoted grants
specialist to help with the appliance course of. We’ll proceed to work with
NIFA in an effort to decide methods to streamline and simplify purposes for
non-profit and community-based organizations.

How will
OPPE get up exterior peer evaluate for the 2501 program? 

One
of probably the most vital modifications within the farm invoice is the brand new peer evaluate course of
now required for 2501 grants. It stays to be seen, nevertheless, whether or not OPPE has
the capability to handle and administer an exterior peer evaluation course of
internally. If not, they could choose to companion with an company with extra capability,
infrastructure and experience in grant making, resembling NIFA.

How will
OPPE implement grant phrases for 2501 tasks?  

At present,
2501 candidates are solely capable of obtain grant funding for a single yr, and
should reapply (and recompete) for funding yearly. That is clearly an
inefficient use of the usually restricted capability and assets of community-based
and non-profit organizations whose main mission is to help farmers. NSAC
encourages OPPE to permit organizations to use for the utmost three yr
grant approved beneath the 2018 Farm Invoice in an effort to higher help longer
grant tasks that yield extra impactful and measurable outcomes.

Farmer and Stakeholder Enter Wanted in 2019

As USDA strikes ahead with implementing the 2018 Farm Invoice,
farmers and repair suppliers alike will play a crucial position in making certain that FOTO
meets their wants and expectations. As an early supporter of FOTO, NSAC plans
to stay lively all through the implementation course of, and can publicize all
alternatives for stakeholders to submit feedback and proposals to USDA.

As soon as the executive particulars of FOTO are hammered out and this system is able to start accepting purposes for funding, NSAC will present detailed program and software info by way of our weblog and our Grassroots Information to Federal Meals and Farm Packages.


Classes:
Starting and Minority Farmers, Farm Invoice