Fund for Rural America-Research, Education, and Extension Activities


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 Catalog entry applies only to the competitive grant program administered by CSREES for research, education, and extension activities supported by the Fund for Rural America.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Deleted 11/01/2009 (Archived.)
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
Project Grants.
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.
Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, Section 793, 7 U.S.C. 2204(f); Public Law 105-185.
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
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.
Beneficiary Eligibility
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.
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.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
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.
Application Procedure
Application procedures are outlined in the annual program guidelines and/or proposal solicitations.
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.
All proposal submission deadlines are announced in the program guidelines and/or proposal solicitations, which are published in the Federal Register.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
From 90 to 180 days from proposal submission.
How are proposals selected?
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.
How may assistance be used?
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.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Annual and final technical and financial reports must be submitted to CSREES in accordance with the terms and conditions of a grant award.
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.
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.
Other Assistance Considerations
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.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
From 6 months to 4 years.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
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.
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Grants) FY 02 $9,480,000; FY 03 est $0; and FY 04 est $0.
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.
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.
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.