2022 Funds Develop Technical Assistance for Underserved Producers

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA) has released the Request for Applications for the 2022 American Rescue Plan Technical Assistance Investment Program (ARPA). USDA anticipates providing a minimum of $25 million in funding and there is no anticipated maximum level of funding. Funding levels will depend on the quality and scope of the applications received and deemed eligible for funding. Applications are due June 1, 2022.

Who is eligible to apply for the ARPA? Applicants must be domestic nonprofit entities or institutions for higher education. Only the applicant must meet the eligibility requirement. Project partners and collaborators need not meet the eligibility requirement. Award recipients may subcontract to organizations not eligible to apply provided such organizations are necessary for the successful completion of the project, with the exception of individuals and non-domestic entities. Current Cooperators under Section 1006 of the Act are not eligible to apply as a lead applicant to this funding opportunity, but may serve as cooperators, collaborators and sub-contractors to lead applicants, provided their activities are new, non-duplicative activities. Individuals, non-domestic entities and private, for profit organizations are not eligible to apply to this funding opportunity.

What are the project priorities? The primary goal of American Rescue Plan Technical Assistance Investment Program is to ensure improved understanding of and equitable participation in the full range of USDA programs and services among underserved farmers, ranchers, forest land owners and operators through supporting the organizational delivery of technical assistance projects and establishment of technical assistance networks. USDA is authorized to support and facilitate the establishment of technical assistance projects toward this goal. Projects must provide a range of technical assistance services to underserved agricultural producers. The term “agricultural producer” is used to refer to agricultural farmers, ranchers, and private forest land owners and operators. Underserved communities of agricultural producers have not received the amount of specialized technical support that would benefit the launch, growth, resilience and success of their agricultural enterprises. These audiences are more likely to operate smaller, lower-revenue farms, have weaker credit histories and may lack clear title to their agricultural land, which increases difficulty in securing loans to own or operate their businesses and to ensure the success and resiliency of their operations. Advocacy groups have also reported these audiences have lower awareness of credit options and lending requirements, particularly for beginning farmers and recent immigrants. USDA has comparatively few programs directed at supporting specialty crop production, which is a predominant crop production choice for many of these producers and existing livestock programs may not always be designed to focus on the needs of small, diversified farms and ranches. Common barriers experienced by these underserved audiences include challenges with accessing federal agricultural programs including communication about programs, problems with the application process, lack of standardization and transparency, limited knowledge on qualification requirements for all programs, and complicated reporting requirements. Additional common barriers a robust team of cooperators can assist USDA in addressing include enhanced business and financial management training, expanded risk identification and mitigation strategies, greater use of land use tools, improved new market access identification and planning, understanding tax and legal issues facing the farm or ranch operation, as well as climate mitigation and food safety strategies uniquely focused on the needs of underserved producers.

To address these challenges, recommendations for improvement include facilitating close collaborations with community leaders and agricultural organizations, implementing grassroots strategies, developing targeted communication approaches at the local, state, and federal levels, fostering transparency, greater responsiveness to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, and bolstering evaluation of outreach and technical assistance outcomes.

In this program, USDA will fund Cooperators, who will work collaboratively with USDA and with other cooperators to deliver targeted outreach and technical assistance programs addressed to meet the needs of underserved agricultural producers through a cooperative agreement. No agreement activities will be duplicative of other activities currently undertaken by the organization (Cooperator) that are supported financially by USDA.

What project or grant types are eligible for funding?
  1. Project Types. Applicants must propose a Technical Assistance Project. Technical Assistance Projects must propose projects that deliver existing agriculture financial training, agriculture mediation access, outreach to USDA programs and services, agriculture cooperative development training and support, capacity building training, land access technical support, targeted support related to agriculture production, and/or agriculture credit and capital access, within a comprehensive program designed to reach targeted audiences of underserved agricultural producers.
  2. Grant Types. Applicants must select the cooperative agreement grant type. This is an award instrument by which NIFA agrees to support a specified level of effort for a predetermined project period without the announced intention of providing additional support at a future date. The minimum award is $500,000 and the maximum award is $3,500,000 for a five-year cooperative agreement.

What are the funding levels? The anticipated amount available for American Rescue Plan Technical Assistance Investment Program in FY2022 is a minimum of $25,000,000; maximum funding will depend on the scope and quality of applications received. USDA is not committed to fund any particular application or to make a specific number of awards.

Is there a cost-sharing/match requirement? The American Rescue Plan Technical Assistance Investment Program has no matching requirement. NIFA will not factor matching resources into the review process as an evaluation criterion.

What is the grant duration? The project period is 60 months with applications due June 1, 2022.

The full Request for Applications can be found here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at grants@morrisonco.net or call us at 530-893-4764.


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