GM_230_406_A - Subpart A - General
Subpart A - General

406.0  Purpose

This policy provides guidance and direction in implementing a comprehensive outreach process for NRCS. This policy directly supports and assists with implementing program outreach activities in the agency public notification procedures, Title 230, General Manual (GM), Part 405, Subpart A, Section 405.5.  The process will utilize existing partnerships, formulate new ones, and engage the entire agency to facilitate full implementation.

406.1  Authorities

Outreach policy and procedures will be institutionalized within the agency as a means of conducting business. The following authorize this directive:

(1)  Secretary’s Memorandum 1064-001, Establishment of the Office of  Advocacy and Outreach November 3, 2009)

(2)  Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, (42 U.S.C. Sections 2000 (d) – 2000 (d)(1) Section 2501 of Public Law 104-624, the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990

(3)  Public Law 107-171, Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 Public Law 110-246, Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008

(4)  Executive Orders 12898, 13230, 13515, and 13532

(5)  Departmental Regulation 9700-001, Small Farms and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Policy (August 3, 2006)

(6)  Section 622 of Public Law 100-133, the Small or Limited Resource Farmer Initiative, Agricultural Act of 1987 (101 Stat 1985)

(7)  Departmental Regulation 1071-001, Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice and Executive Order 12898, (July 15, 2011)

(8)  Departmental Regulation 4370-001, Sections 14007 and 14007 of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 2279-1(a) – (d) (October 11, 2011)

406.2  Definitions

A. Community-Based Organizations (CBOs).—Recognized groups concerned with improving the quality of life for residents within local communities.  Such organizations serve as project initiators and managers, thereby providing avenues for involvement with and access to locally led processes and activities.  These groups include nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations with well-defined constituencies that include all or part of a particular community.  Faith-based organizations, women’s groups, environmental groups, farm or woodlands groups, trade and professional associations, educational associations, and schools are all examples.

B.  Limited-Resource Farmer or Rancher.—A person with direct or indirect gross farm sales of not more than $146,000 in each of the previous 2 years (this figure has been modified beginning in fiscal year 2004 to adjust for inflation using the Prices Paid by Farmer Index as compiled by National Agricultural Statistics Service).  A limited-resource producer has a total household income at or below the national poverty level for a family of four or less than 50 percent of the county median household income in each of the previous 2 years (to be determined annually using Commerce Department data).

C.  Indian Tribes.—Indian Tribe means any Indian Tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community, including any Alaska Native village or regional or village corporation as defined in or established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C Section 1601 et seq.) that is federally recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians.

D.  NRCS Partners.—Groups and organizations that share common concerns and goals that help carry out the NRCS mission.  They can help appropriately and clearly explain the mission and programs of the agency, provided they are equipped with the appropriate outreach tools and details.

E.  Outreach.—Conducting business to ensure that NRCS programs and services are made accessible to all customers, with emphasis on the historically underserved.  Outreach also involves crafting messages and informational materials with language and services that speaks to particular groups and populations and aids them in understanding the mission, processes, goals, obligations and eligibility issues inherent in the work of the agency and the Farm Bill.

F.  Small Farmer or Rancher.—A person who has a farm having less than $250,000 in gross receipts annually.  In 1995, the Economic Research Service (ERS) identified five primary groups of small farms. These groups are as follows:

(1)  Limited-Resource.—A person with direct or indirect gross farm sales of not more than $146,000  in each of the previous 2 years (this figure has been modified beginning in fiscal year 2004 to adjust for inflation using the Prices Paid by Farmer Index as compiled by National Agricultural Statistics Service). A limited-resource producer has a total household income at or below the national poverty level for a family of four or less than 50 percent of the county median household income in each of the previous 2 years (to be determined annually using Commerce Department data).

(2)  Retirement.—Small farms whose operators report they are retired.

(3)  Residential or Lifestyle.—Small farms whose operators report a major occupation other than farming.

(4)  Farming Occupation and Lower Sales.—Small farms with sales less than $100,000 whose operators report farming as their major occupation.

(5)  Farming Occupation and Higher Sales.—Small farms with sales between $100,000 and $249,000, whose operators report farming as their major occupation.

G.  Socially Disadvantaged Farmer or Rancher.—A farmer or rancher who is a member of a socially disadvantaged group.

H.  Socially Disadvantaged Group.—A group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities. These groups consist of the following:

 

(1)  American Indians or Alaskan Natives

(2)  Asians

(3)  Blacks or African Americans

(4)  Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders

(5)  Hispanics

I.  Underserved.—Individuals or groups who have not participated in or have received limited benefits from USDA or NRCS programs.  Historically, the underserved include Tribes, minorities, women, the disabled, limited-resource farmers and ranchers, and small-scale farmers.

J.  Beginning Farmer or Rancher.—An applicant who has not operated a farm or ranch, or who has operated a farm or ranch for not more than 10 consecutive years.  This requirement applies to all members of a legal entity.

406.3  Policy

A.  Outreach is an integral part of the overall delivery of NRCS programs and services to customers and potential beneficiaries.  NRCS will conduct business to ensure that all programs and services are made equally accessible to all customers, with emphasis on the underserved.

B.  To that end, NRCS will—

(1)  Conduct outreach to serve a diverse clientele.

(2)  Inform and educate existing and potential customers about NRCS and USDA conservation programs and services, including details regarding program sign ups, application procedures, eligibility requirements, and contractual obligations of Farm Bill programs.

(3)  Provide leadership and guidance, including print, electronic, and audio visual tools, to conduct outreach activities and initiatives.

(4)  Incorporate outreach tracking into the existing integrated accountability system to ensure outreach is part of NRCS’s way of doing business, not a separate activity.   This needs to be developed at the national level for consistency, must be broad based, (e.g., for all programs and services), and be mission driven.

(5)  Engage partners in the outreach process by providing them with accurate, timely, and easily-accessible communication tools.

(6)  Integrate a process that includes feedback and recommendations from clients at the grassroots level, the local level and up, in order to gain new insights.

[GM_230_406_A - Amend. 29 - March 2012]