Fund for Rural America_Research, Education, and Extension Activities

Published on AidPage by IDILOGIC on Jun 24, 2005

Administered by:

Purpose of this program:

The funding for Rural America (FRA) provides funds for rural development programs and for a competitive grant program to support research, education, and extension activities. CSREES administers the competitive grant program for the research, education, and extension component of the Fund for Rural America. The competitive grant program supports unique, innovative, and high-impact research, education, and extension projects to aid farmers, ranchers, and rural communities to address changes and challenges facing agriculture and rural communities as a result of fundamental reforms to Federal farm programs. The broad range of purposes of these projects are to: increase international competitiveness, efficiency, and farm profitability; reduce economic and health risk; conserve and enhance natural resources; develop new crops, new crop uses, and new agricultural applications of biotechnology; enhance animal agricultural resources; preserve plant and animal germplasm; increase economic opportunities in farming and rural communities; and expand locally- owned, value-added processing. The information provided under this program applies only to the competitive grant program administered by CSREES for research, education, and extension activities supported by the Fund for Rural America.

Possible uses and use restrictions...

The CSREES Fund for Rural America competitive grants program will support applied, developmental, and adaptive research; technology transfer; extension and related outreach activities; and education. The program will emphasize biological, physical, and social sciences to address systems-based problems. This requires involvement of affected parties within the system (such as producers, commodity groups, environmental interests, rural communities, and other program beneficiaries); therefore, this program will give priority to projects that are designed and proposed by eligible grant recipients in collaboration with institutions, organizations, and communities of interest. Strong partnerships will be critical to leverage and apply research, education, and extension investments to address user needs and solve community-defined problems. The program is segmented into two initiatives: (1) The Fund Core Initiative, which addresses and links international competitiveness, profitability; and efficiency; environmental stewardship; and rural community enhancement; and (2) the Secretary's Initiative to Ensure a Safe, Competitive, Nutritional and Accessible Food System. Examples of potential research, education, and extension activities to be funded under the Fund Core Initiative include, but are not limited to: extension to improve producers' risk management knowledge, skills, and practices; adaptive research to develop new strategies for animal waste management to reduce environmental contaminants in animal waste; and innovations in delivery of education and information in rural areas. As part of the Fund Core Initiative, CSREES also intends to provide funding for FRA Center Grants which are aimed at bringing together individuals, institutions, States, and/or regions in support of research, education, and extension in a collaborative process towards a common goal. Initially, CSREES will award FRA Center Planning Grants to support only the planning stages of FRA Centers, and only those organizations successful in receiving a FRA Center Planning Grant will be eligible to receive follow-on funding for a FRA Center. Proposals for FRA Center Planning Grants and for follow- on FRA Center Grants may be solicited in separate announcements. Examples of research, education, and extension activities to be funded under the Secretary's Initiative to Ensure a Safe, Competitive, Nutritional and Accessible Food System include, but are not limited to: assessment of educational needs of small and very small meat and poultry processing plants to achieve Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) implementation; research, development and on-farm extension education about low-cost production facilities, such as hoop housing for swine production, combined with management systems and genetics appropriate to these facilities; research to create foods that have increased amounts of the beneficial components found in fruits, vegetables and grains; and research and extension efforts to develop and implement mechanisms such as community-operated canneries or dehydration facilities to extend the "shelf-life" of food available through gleaning and food recovery programs. Funds provided under the CSREES Fund for Rural America competitive grants program may not be used for the construction of a new building or for the acquisition, expansion, remodeling, or alteration of an existing building (including site grading and improvement and architect fees), or for the purchase of fixed equipment.

Who is eligible to apply...

Proposals may be submitted by Federal research agencies, national laboratories, colleges or universities or research foundations maintained by a college or university, or private research organizations. National laboratories include Federal laboratories that are government-owned contractor-operated or government-owned government operated. If the applicant is a private organization, documentation must be submitted that the organization has an established and demonstrated capacity to perform research or technology transfer. A programmatic decision on the eligibility status of the private organization will be made based on the information submitted.

Eligible Applicant Categories:
Eligible Functional Categories:

Organizations must furnish the information and assurances specified in the program guidelines and/or proposal solicitation with each proposal it submits. In addition, if a proposal is recommended for funding and the submitting organization has not previously received funding from CSREES, that organization will be asked to furnish specific management information relating to the organization as part of the pre-award process.

Note:This is a brief description of the credentials or documentation required prior to, or along with, an application for assistance.

About this section:

This section indicates who can apply to the Federal government for assistance and the criteria the potential applicant must satisfy. For example, individuals may be eligible for research grants, and the criteria to be satisfied may be that they have a professional or scientific degree, 3 years of research experience, and be a citizen of the United States. Universities, medical schools, hospitals, or State and local governments may also be eligible. Where State governments are eligible, the type of State agency will be indicated (State welfare agency or State agency on aging) and the criteria that they must satisfy.

Certain federal programs (e.g., the Pell Grant program which provides grants to students) involve intermediate levels of application processing, i.e., applications are transmitted through colleges or universities that are neither the direct applicant nor the ultimate beneficiary. For these programs, the criteria that the intermediaries must satisfy are also indicated, along with intermediaries who are not eligible.

How to apply...

Application Procedure:

Application procedures are outlined in the annual program guidelines and/or proposal solicitations.

Note: Each program will indicate whether applications are to be submitted to the Federal headquarters, regional or local office, or to a State or local government office.

Award Procedure:

Proposals are reviewed and evaluated by CSREES staff members with the assistance and advice of peer panels of specialists who are uniquely qualified by training and experience in their respective fields to render expert advice on the merit of proposals being reviewed. Proposals are recommended for funding in order of merit to the extent permitted by available funds. The National Agricultural Research, Education and Economics Advisory Board will review collective groups of proposals recommended for funding to ensure the relevance of the work proposed for funding toward achieving the programmatic goals of the Fund for Rural America. Proposals recommended for funding as a results of the merit and programmatic relevance evaluations then undergo a financial and administrative review. Upon the satisfactory completion of all reviews and evaluations, a grant award is issued.

Note: Grant payments may be made by a letter of credit, advance by Treasury check, or reimbursement by Treasury check. Awards may be made by the headquarters office directly to the applicant, an agency field office, a regional office, or by an authorized county office. The assistance may pass through the initial applicant for further distribution by intermediate level applicants to groups or individuals in the private sector.

Deadlines and process...


All proposal submission deadlines are announced in the program guidelines and/or proposal solicitations, which are published in the Federal Register.

Note: When available, this section indicates the deadlines for applications to the funding agency which will be stated in terms of the date(s) or between what dates the application should be received. When not available, applicants should contact the funding agency for deadline information.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

From 90 to 180 days from proposal submission.

Preapplication Coordination

All proposal solicitations are published in the Federal Register. Any preapplication requirements will be specified in the program guidelines and/or proposal solicitations. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Note: This section indicates whether any prior coordination or approval is required with governmental or nongovernmental units prior to the submission of a formal application to the federal funding agency.



Note: In some cases, there are no provisions for appeal. Where applicable, this section discusses appeal procedures or allowable rework time for resubmission of applications to be processed by the funding agency. Appeal procedures vary with individual programs and are either listed in this section or applicants are referred to appeal procedures documented in the relevant Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).



Note: In some instances, renewal procedures may be the same as for the application procedure, e.g., for projects of a non-continuing nature renewals will be treated as new, competing applications; for projects of an ongoing nature, renewals may be given annually.

Who can benefit...

The beneficiaries of this program are expected to be parties affected by the fundamental reforms to Federal farm programs. These parties include, but are not limited to producers, commodity groups, environmental interests, and rural communities.

About this section:

This section lists the ultimate beneficiaries of a program, the criteria they must satisfy and who specifically is not eligible. The applicant and beneficiary will generally be the same for programs that provide assistance directly from a Federal agency. However, financial assistance that passes through State or local governments will have different applicants and beneficiaries since the assistance is transmitted to private sector beneficiaries who are not obligated to request or apply for the assistance.

What types of assistance...

Project Grants

The funding, for fixed or known periods, of specific projects. Project grants can include fellowships, scholarships, research grants, training grants, traineeships, experimental and demonstration grants, evaluation grants, planning grants, technical assistance grants, survey grants, and construction grants.

How much financial aid...

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

The range of assistance is $25,000 to $600,000; the average amount for Standard Grants is $271,000; the average amount for Center Planning Grants is $25,000.

Note: This section lists the representative range (smallest to largest) of the amount of financial assistance available. These figures are based upon funds awarded in the past fiscal year and the current fiscal year to date. Also indicated is an approximate average amount of awards which were made in the past and current fiscal years.


(Grants) FY 03 $0; FY 04 $0; and FY 05 est $0.

Note: The dollar amounts listed in this section represent obligations for the past fiscal year (PY), estimates for the current fiscal year (CY), and estimates for the budget fiscal year (BY) as reported by the Federal agencies. Obligations for non-financial assistance programs indicate the administrative expenses involved in the operation of a program.

Account Identification


Note: Note: This 11-digit budget account identification code represents the account which funds a particular program. This code should be consistent with the code given for the program area as specified in Appendix III of the Budget of the United States Government.

Examples of funded projects...

Planning for Native American Rural Development; Food Losses from the Farm to the Consumer; Competition for Land on the Urban-Rural Interface; Value-Added Composites from the Rural Southwestern United States.

About this section

This section indicates the different types of projects which have been funded in the past. Only projects funded under Project Grants or Direct Payments for Specified Use should be listed here. The examples give potential applicants an idea of the types of projects that may be accepted for funding. The agency should list at least five examples of the most recently funded projects.

Program accomplishments...

The development of information infrastructure for post-secondary programs that will expand American Indian agricultural and natural resources programs; the development of a center for decentralized rural wastewater treatment; and the demonstration and promotion of the economic development potentials of farmers' markets and their effects on vendors and host communities.

Criteria for selecting proposals...

Proposals are initially reviewed to ensure that they meet the requirements set forth in the program guidelines/proposal solicitations. Standard Project Grant proposals then undergo technical evaluations using the following criteria: (1) Merit - scientific, technical, or educational merit; well defined problem; clearly defined objectives; appropriateness of approach (including selection of proper approach to address systems, multifaceted, or multidisciplinary problems); demonstrated integration of components (such as research, education, and extension components); degree of feasibility; soundness and effectiveness of management plan; (2) Quality - creativity and innovativeness in addressing problems and issues; selection of most appropriate and qualified individuals to address problem; competence and experience of personnel; effective utilization of knowledge base in addressing problems; potential to contribute solutions to stated problem; identified potential for technology transfer and information dissemination; (3) relevance - proposal advances purposes for federally-supported research, education, and extension as referenced or stated in the solicitation; potential to contribute solutions to priority problems in agriculture; identification and involvement of stakeholders; involvement of communities of interest and stakeholders in the identification of problems set forth in the proposal; partnership with those affected by the outcome. FRA Center Planning Grant proposals will be judged using the following criteria: (1) Merits of the FRA Center concept; (2) relevance of the proposed FRA Center to the purposes of the Fund for Rural America; (3) appropriateness of planning activities in assembling a follow-on proposal for funding of the proposed FRA Center; and (4) competence of identified participants. Criteria used to judge FRA Center Grant proposals will be published in the FRA Center Grant solicitation.

Assistance considerations...

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

From 6 months to 4 years.

Formula and Matching Requirements

A grant awarded for applied research that is commodity-specific and that is not of national scope must be matched by the grant recipient with equal funds from a nonfederal source. The matching requirement may be met through allowable costs incurred by the recipient or subrecipient and through third party in-kind contributions.

A formula may be based on population, per capita income, and other statistical factors. Applicants are informed whether there are any matching requirements to be met when participating in the cost of a project. In general, the matching share represents that portion of the project costs not borne by the Federal government. Attachment F of OMB Circular No. A-102 (Office of Management and Budget) sets forth the criteria and procedures for the evaluation of matching share requirements which may be cash or in-kind contributions made by State and local governments or other agencies, institutions, private organizations, or individuals to satisfy matching requirements of Federal grants or loans.

Cash contributions represent the grantees' cash outlay, including the outlay of money contributed to the grantee by other public agencies, institutions, private organizations, or individuals. When authorized by Federal regulation, Federal funds received from other grants may be considered as the grantees' cash contribution.

In-kind contributions represent the value of noncash contributions provided by the grantee, other public agencies and institutions, private organizations or individuals. In-kind contributions may consist of charges for real property and equipment, and value of goods and services directly benefiting and specifically identifiable to the grant program. When authorized by Federal legislation, property purchased with Federal funds may be considered as grantees' in-kind contribution.

Maintenance of effort (MOE) is a requirement contained in certain legislation, regulations, or administrative policies stating that a grantee must maintain a specified level of financial effort in a specific area in order to receive Federal grant funds, and that the Federal grant funds may be used only to supplement, not supplant, the level of grantee funds.

Post assistance requirements...


Annual and final technical and financial reports must be submitted to CSREES in accordance with the terms and conditions of a grant award.

Note: This section indicates whether program reports, expenditure reports, cash reports or performance monitoring are required by the Federal funding agency, and specifies at what time intervals (monthly, annually, etc.) this must be accomplished.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A- 133 (Revised, June 24, 1997), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $300,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $300,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.

Note: This section discusses audits required by the Federal agency. The procedures and requirements for State and local governments and nonprofit entities are set forth in OMB Circular No. A-133. These requirements pertain to awards made within the respective State's fiscal year - not the Federal fiscal year, as some State and local governments may use the calendar year or other variation of time span designated as the fiscal year period, rather than that commonly known as the Federal fiscal year (from October 1st through September 30th).


Grantees must maintain separate records for each grant to ensure that funds are used for the purpose for which the grant was made. Grantees must maintain records, which are subject to inspection by CSREES, the cognizant Federal audit agency, or the USDA Office of Inspector General, three years beyond the expiration date of a grant or longer if there are any pending litigation or unresolved audit findings.

Note: This section indicates the record retention requirements and the type of records the Federal agency may require. Not included are the normally imposed requirements of the General Accounting Office. For programs falling under the purview of OMB Circular No. A-102, record retention is set forth in Attachment C. For other programs, record retention is governed by the funding agency's requirements.



Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, Section 793, 7 U.S.C. 2204(f); Public Law 105-185.

Note: This section lists the legal authority upon which a program is based (acts, amendments to acts, Public Law numbers, titles, sections, Statute Codes, citations to the U.S. Code, Executive Orders, Presidential Reorganization Plans, and Memoranda from an agency head).

Regulations, Guidelines, And Literature

As indicated in the terms and conditions of any resulting grant award, the applicable regulations, guidelines, and literature include, but are not limited to: 7 CFR Part 3015 - USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations; 7 CFR Part 3017, as amended - USDA Implementation of Government wide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) and Government wide Requirements for Drug-Free Workplace (Grants); 7 CFR Part 3018 - USDA Implementation of New Restrictions on lobbying; 7 CFR Part 3019 - USDA Implementation of OMB Circular No. A-110, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Nonprofit Organizations; 7 CFR Part 3052 - USDA Implementation of OMB Circular No. A-133 (revised June 24, 1997) regarding audits of States, local governments, and nonprofit organizations; 7 CFR Part 3407 - CSREES procedures to implement the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended.

Contact information...

Web Sites
Regional Or Local Office


Note: This section lists the agency contact person, address and telephone number of the Federal Regional or Local Office(s) to be contacted for detailed information regarding a program such as: (1) current availability of funds and the likelihood of receiving assistance within a given period; (2) pre-application and application forms required; (3) whether a pre-application conference is recommended; (4) assistance available in preparation of applications; (5) whether funding decisions are made at the headquarters, regional or local level; (6) application renewal procedures (including continuations and supplementals) or appeal procedures for rejected applications; and (7) recently published program guidelines and material. However, for most federal programs, this section will instruct the reader to consult the so-called Appendix IV of the Catalog due to the large volume of Regional and Local Office Contacts for most agencies. This information is provided in Additional Contact Information (see below).

Headquarters Office

Deputy Administrator, Competitive Research Grants and Awards Management, the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20250. Telephone: (202) 401-1761.

Note: This section lists names and addresses of the office at the headquarters level with direct operational responsibility for managing a program. A telephone number is provided in cases where a Regional or Local Office is not normally able to answer detailed inquiries concerning a program. Also listed are the name(s) and telephone number(s) of the information contact person(s) who can provide additional program information to applicants.

Additional Contact Information (Appendix IV)

Due to the large volume of regional and local office contacts for most agencies, full contact information is also provided separately here in a PDF format: