Section 22007 of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed into law by President Biden in August 2022, directs USDA to provide financial assistance to producers who have experienced discrimination in USDA’s farm lending programs. This program provides USDA the ability to deliver financial assistance for those farmers, ranchers, or forest landowners determined to have experienced discrimination in USDA's farm lending programs prior to January 1, 2021. These funds are one step in the long march towards justice and an inclusive, equitable USDA.
The Act requires USDA to contract with nongovernmental program administrators to coordinate the delivery of a national program of financial assistance to impacted farmers, ranchers, or forest landowners. The Department has begun the contracting process.
The program will involve several types of entities/organizations:
- A national administrator to oversee the program; this entity will contract with USDA.
- Four regional hubs to provide outreach and technical assistance within their regions and process applications for financial assistance consistently and efficiently. These entities will contract with USDA.
- Organizational subcontractors: the regional hub vendors are strongly encouraged to partner/subcontract with organizations with experience in agriculture, that work with and represent producers and that have a relationship with USDA. These partners/subcontractors may conduct outreach and assist potential applicants with the financial assistance application process.
- Cooperators to conduct outreach and ensure potential applicants are informed about the program and have the opportunity to apply.
The rest of this blogpost answers some frequently asked questions about the last two categories of organizational participants in this process, and explains some of the relevant deadlines.
FAQ – Section 22007
What deadlines/application processes do my organization need to know about?
- Partners/Subcontractors with Regional Hub Vendors: Organizations that might be interested in serving as organizational partners/subcontractors to one or more of the regional hub vendors, to conduct outreach or assist potential applicants with the financial assistance application process, should express that interest through an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 17, 2023. (Note: Initially, this deadline was March 10, but it has been extended.) There is no formal application process. USDA will serve as a connector between the interested organizations and the entitles who seek to become regional hub vendors.
- USDA Cooperators: Organizations that might be interested in serving as a USDA cooperator to conduct outreach and ensure potential applicants are informed about the program and have the opportunity to apply should express that interest through an email to email@example.com by March 31, 2023. There is no formal application process.
- Both: Regional Hub Partner/Subcontractor and USDA Cooperator: Organizations can express interest in both opportunities—partnering with a regional hub vendor (deadline now Friday, March 17) and serving as a cooperator (deadline, March 31). For additional information, the original press release can be found at the following link: www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2023/03/01/usda-announces-next-steps-providing-financial-assistance-borrowers. (But note: the first deadline has changed).
- For help with additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s the difference between the regional hub vendors’ subcontractors/partners and the USDA cooperators?
- The regional hubs will decide who they wish to partner with and will subcontract with organizations with experience in agriculture who can reach into relevant communities to conduct outreach and assist potential applicants with the financial assistance application process.
- USDA will fund cooperators to provide additional outreach to farmers, ranchers, or forest landowners to ensure that potential applicants can learn about the program, get answers to their questions, and have the opportunity to timely apply for financial assistance.
I’m a farmer, rancher, or forest landowner. When/how can I get further details about the producer application process for this program?
Future details concerning the application period for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners seeking financial assistance through this new program will be announced once the national administrator and vendors for the four regional hubs are selected and prepared to begin the application process.
Is this where I file a discrimination complaint if I am currently experiencing discrimination in USDA programs or need to find answers about a previously filed complaint?
No. If you are currently experiencing discrimination, you may contact the Office of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (OASCR), Information Research Service, on (866) 632-9992 (toll free) or send an email to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at CR-INFO@usda.gov. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities may contact OASCR through the Federal Relay Service on 711 or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish).
For help with additional questions, please email email@example.com.
Zach Ducheneaux is the Administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency.