August 22, 2014
On Thursday, August 21st, the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO) hosted a listening session on available funding for the Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers program – also known as the Section 2501 program. The listening session provided organizations from across the country the opportunity to directly engage with OAO on the application process and timeline for review and award decisions. Calls came in from states around the country including Florida, Texas, and Washington.
The deadline to apply is 5pm EST, August 27. All applications must be submitted through grants.gov.
New Information and Clarification for Applicants
During the listening session, OAO was able to provide more information on the application process and timing. Applicants will be notified by September 30th. Principals on the application should be on the lookout for email correspondence from OAO in the next month. Furthermore, successful project applications can begin work as early as October 1, however projects may not start before the grant agreement is executed by USDA and the principal on the grant.
The review panel will look favorably on projects that work across districts and/or states. Additionally, these awards are not intended to help start up efforts, but to assist existing and experienced organizations. As such, applicants must demonstrate their work with socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers in the previous three years.
In addition to points awarded on the quality of the proposed project and budget, there will be five (5) discretionary points awarded based on newly designated categories in the Funding Opportunity Announcement. The categories include projects assisting beginning farmers and ranchers, projects in rural Promise Zones, projects to assist Tribal organizations and increase Tribal participation and buy-in, and projects to assist Strike Force states and communities.
Details on the 2014 Application Process
This year’s Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) has several changes from previous years, including caps to grant amounts and grant terms. The total grant amount that can be awarded is limited to $400,000 and the grant term can only be one year. Both the grant amount and grant term were twice these amounts in previous FOAs.
Another significant change to this year’s application process is how the grant proposals will be categorized, competed and subsequently reviewed by a peer review panel. This year, there will be three separate categories of proposals that will be rated, including applications from:
All grant applications are expected to address two or more of the following priority areas in the projects they are proposing:
When the Funding Opportunity Announcement was published in late July, prospective applicants were given 30 days to submit their applications. The deadline was extended from August 25 to August 27due to system maintenance on grants.gov. While NSAC is concerned about short turnaround time for organizations seeking funding, we are pleased that OAO is moving forward to award grants for this year and are hopeful that organizations will be given more time to apply for fiscal year 2015.
Click here to download the 2014 FOA.
Applicants are encouraged to direct any questions about the application process to OASDVFR2014@osec.usda.gov.