August 14, 2013
Today, the USDA announced in the Federal Register the availability of funds totaling approximately $12.2 million for the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) for fiscal year 2013.
RMAP, an NSAC priority program, is a USDA rural development program created by the 2008 Farm Bill that provides loans and grants to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs), which then provide technical services and distribute microloans to rural microentrepreneurs to support their development and ongoing success.
According to USDA, “Since the program began, USDA has provided 97 loans totaling more than $37 million and 124 grants totaling more than $9.5 million to 110 MDOs. These organizations used the USDA funding to make more than 760 microloans to 712 rural microenterprises. This assistance to individual businesses has created or saved an estimated 2,700 jobs.”
For this round, MDOs may borrow $50,000 at minimum and $500,000 at maximum through the program. Technical assistance-only grants are capped at $30,000 per grantee for technical assistance-only grants.
USDA expects to make $1.2 million available to MDOs for technical assistance and $10.7 million for microloans. In addition, $300,000 is available for technical assistance-only grants.
The deadline for submitting an application is September 13, 2013. Application materials for loans must be received by the deadline in the USDA Rural Development State Offices. Locations of the Rural Development State Offices are included in the announcement. Application materials for grants may be submitted in through grants.gov.
USDA is funding RMAP for fiscal year 2013 through funds authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill and leftover due to earlier restrictions placed on the program by the annual agriculture appropriations bill. Were it not for these leftover funds, RMAP would not be making any grants this year, as funding for the program was not included in the 2008 farm bill extension signed into law on January 2, 2013 nor was funding appropriated in the fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill.
RMAP is provided new farm bill money in the Senate-passed version of the new five-year farm bill, but is not funded in the House-passed farm-only farm bill. RMAP was funded as part of the farm bill extension plan proposed by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) at the end of last year, but that plan was rejected in the final negotiations between the White House and Senate Ranking Member Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Hence, RMAP remains one of the currently stranded farm bill mandatory programs.
Read more about RMAP here.
The interim final rule for RMAP as well as the application form is available here.