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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR Data is current as of October 29, 2014

Title 7Subtitle BChapter XVIIPart 1700 → Subpart D


Title 7: Agriculture
PART 1700—GENERAL INFORMATION


Subpart D—Substantially Underserved Trust Areas


Contents
§1700.100   Purpose.
§1700.101   Definitions.
§1700.102   Eligible programs.
§1700.103   Eligible communities.
§1700.104   Financial feasibility.
§1700.105   Determining whether land meets the statutory definition of “trust land.”
§1700.106   Discretionary provisions.
§1700.107   Considerations relevant to the exercise of SUTA discretionary provisions.
§1700.108   Application requirements.
§1700.109   RUS review.
§§1700.110-1700.149   [Reserved]
§1700.150   OMB Control Number.

Source: 77 FR 35250, June 13, 2012, unless otherwise noted.

§1700.100   Purpose.

This subpart establishes policies and procedures for the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) implementation of the Substantially Underserved Trust Areas (SUTA) initiative under section 306F of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended (7 U.S.C. 906f). The purpose of this rule is to identify and improve the availability of eligible programs in communities in substantially underserved trust areas.

§1700.101   Definitions.

Administrator means the Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service, or designee or successor.

Applicant means an entity that is eligible for an eligible program under that program's eligibility criteria.

Borrower means any organization that has an outstanding loan or loan guarantee made by RUS for a program purpose.

Completed application means an application that includes the elements specified by the rules for the applicable eligible program in form and substance satisfactory to RUS.

ConAct means the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, as amended (7 U.S.C. 1921 et seq.).

Credit support means equity, cash requirements, letters of credit, and other financial commitments provided in support of a loan or loan guarantee.

Eligible community means a community as defined by 7 CFR 1700.103.

Eligible program means a program as defined by 7 CFR 1700.102.

Financial assistance means a grant, combination loan and grant, loan guarantee or loan.

Financial feasibility means the ability of a project or enterprise to meet operating expenses, financial performance metrics, such as debt service coverage requirements and return on investment, and the general ability to repay debt and sustain continued operations at least through the life of the RUS loan or loan guarantee.

Matching fund requirements means the applicant's financial or other required contribution to the project for approved purposes.

Nonduplication generally means a restriction on financing projects for services in a geographic area where reasonably adequate service already exists as defined by the applicable program.

Project means the activity for which financial assistance has been provided.

RE Act means the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended (7 U.S.C. 901 et seq.).

RUS means the Rural Utilities Service, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, successor to the Rural Electrification Administration.

Substantially underserved trust area means a community in trust land with respect to which the Administrator determines has a high need for the benefits of an eligible program.

Trust land means “trust land” as defined in section 3765 of title 38, United States Code as determined by the Administrator under 7 CFR 1700.104.

Underserved means an area or community lacking an adequate level or quality of service in an eligible program, including areas of duplication of service provided by an existing provider where such provider has not provided or will not provide adequate level or quality of service.

§1700.102   Eligible programs.

SUTA does not apply to all RUS programs. SUTA only applies to eligible programs. An eligible program means a program administered by RUS and authorized in paragraph (a) of the RE Act, or paragraphs (b)(1), (2), (14), (22), or (24) of section 306(a) (7 U.S.C. 1926(a)(1), (2), (14), (22), (24)), or sections 306A, 306C, 306D, or 306E of the Con Act (7 U.S.C. 1926a, 1926c, 1926d, 1926e).

§1700.103   Eligible communities.

An eligible community is a community that:

(a) Is located on Trust land;

(b) May be served by an RUS administered program; and

(c) Is determined by the Administrator as having a high need for benefits of an eligible program.

§1700.104   Financial feasibility.

Pursuant to normal underwriting practices, and such reasonable alternatives within the discretion of RUS that contribute to a financial feasibility determination for a particular eligible program or project, the Administrator will only make grants, loans and loan guarantees that RUS finds to be financially feasible and that provide eligible program benefits to substantially underserved trust areas. All income and assets available to and under the control of the Applicant will be considered as part of the Applicant's financial profile.

§1700.105   Determining whether land meets the statutory definition of “trust land.”

The Administrator will use one or more of the following resources in determining whether a particular community is located in Trust land:

(a) Official maps of Federal Indian Reservations based on information compiled by the U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and made available to the public;

(b) Title Status Reports issued by the U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs showing that title to such land is held in trust or is subject to restrictions imposed by the United States;

(c) Trust Asset and Accounting Management System data, maintained by the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs;

(d) Official maps of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands of the State of Hawaii identifying land that has been given the status of Hawaiian home lands under the provisions of section 204 of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920;

(e) Official records of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the State of Alaska, or such other documentation of ownership as the Administrator may determine to be satisfactory, showing that title is owned by a Regional Corporation or a Village Corporation as such terms are defined in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq);

(f) Evidence that the land is located on Guam, American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and is eligible for use in the Veteran's Administration direct loan program for veterans purchasing or constructing homes on communally-owned land; and

(g) Any other evidence satisfactory to the Administrator to establish that the land is “trust land” within the meaning of 38 U.S.C. 3765(1).

§1700.106   Discretionary provisions.

(a) To improve the availability of eligible programs in eligible communities determined to have a high need for the benefits of an eligible program, the Administrator retains the discretion, on a case-by-case basis, to use any of the following SUTA authorities individually or in combination to:

(1) Make available to qualified applicants financing with an interest rate as low as 2 percent;

(2) Extend repayment terms;

(3) Waive (individually or in combination) non-duplication restrictions, matching fund requirements, and credit support requirements from any loan or grant program administered by RUS; and

(4) Give the highest funding priority to designated projects in substantially underserved trust areas.

(b) Requests for waivers of nonduplication restrictions, matching fund requirements, and credit support requirements, and requests for highest funding priority will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis upon written request of the applicant filed pursuant to 7 CFR 1700.108.

(c) Notwithstanding the requirements in paragraph (b) of this section, the Administrator reserves the right to evaluate any application for an eligible program for use of the discretionary provisions of this subpart without a formal, written request from the applicant.

§1700.107   Considerations relevant to the exercise of SUTA discretionary provisions.

(a) In considering requests to make available financing with an interest rate as low as 2 percent, and extended repayment terms, the Administrator will evaluate the effect of and need for such terms on the finding of financial feasibility.

(b) In considering a request for a non-duplication waiver, the Administrator will consider the offerings of all existing service providers to determine whether or not granting the non-duplication waiver is warranted. A waiver of non-duplication restrictions will not be given if the Administrator determines as a matter of financial feasibility that, taking into account all existing service providers, an applicant or RUS borrower would not be able to repay a loan or successfully implement a grant agreement. Requests for waivers of non-duplication restrictions will be reviewed by taking the following factors into consideration:

(1) The size, extent and demographics of the duplicative area;

(2) The cost of service from existing service providers;

(3) The quality of available service; and

(4) The ability of the existing service provider to serve the eligible service area.

(c) Requests for waivers of matching fund requirements will be evaluated by taking the following factors into consideration:

(1) Whether waivers or reductions in matching or equity requirements would make an otherwise financially infeasible project financially feasible;

(2) Whether permitting a matching requirement to be met with sources not otherwise permitted in an affected program due to regulatory prohibition may be allowed under a separate statutory authority; and

(3) Whether the application could be ranked and scored as if the matching requirements were fully met.

(d) Requests for waivers of credit support requirements will be evaluated taking the following factors into consideration:

(1) The cost and availability of credit support relative to the loan security derived from such support;

(2) The extent to which the requirement is shown to be a barrier to the applicant's participation in the program; and

(3) The alternatives to waiving the requirements.

(e) The Administrator may adapt the manner of assigning highest funding priority to align with the selection methods used for particular programs or funding opportunities.

(1) Eligible programs which use priority point scoring may, in a notice of funds availability or similar notice, assign extra points for SUTA eligible applicants as a means to exercise a discretionary authority under this subpart.

(2) The Administrator may announce a competitive grant opportunity focused exclusively or primarily on trust lands which incorporates one or more discretionary authorities under this subpart into the rules or scoring for the competition.

§1700.108   Application requirements.

(a) To receive consideration under this subpart, the applicant must submit to RUS a completed application that includes all of the information required for an application in accordance with the regulations relating to the program for which financial assistance is being sought. In addition, the applicant must notify the RUS contact for the applicable program in writing that it seeks consideration under this subpart and identify the discretionary authorities of this subpart it seeks to have applied to its application. The required written request memorandum or letter must include the following items:

(1) A description of the applicant, documenting eligibility.

(2) A description of the community to be served, documenting eligibility in accordance with 7 CFR 1700.103.

(3) An explanation and documentation of the high need for the benefits of the eligible program, which may include:

(i) Data documenting a lack of service (i.e. no service or unserved areas) or inadequate service in the affected community;

(ii) Data documenting significant health risks due to the fact that a significant proportion of the community's residents do not have access to, or are not served by, adequate, affordable service.

(iii) Data documenting economic need in the community, which may include:

(A) Per capita income of the residents in the community, as documented by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis;

(B) Local area unemployment and not-employed statistics in the community, as documented by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs;

(C) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation and benefit levels in the community, as documented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service;

(D) National School Lunch Program participation and benefit levels in the community, as documented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service;

(E) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program participation and benefit levels in the community, as documented by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families;

(F) Lifeline Assistance and Link-Up America Program participation and benefit levels in the community, as documented by the Federal Communications Commission and the Universal Service Administrative Company;

(G) Examples of economic opportunities which have been or may be lost without improved service.

(H) Data maintained and supplied by Indian tribes or other tribal or jurisdictional entities on “trust land” to the Department of Interior, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Housing and Urban Development that illustrates a high need for the benefits of an eligible program.

(4) The impact of the specific authorities sought under this subpart.

(b) The applicant must provide any additional information RUS may consider relevant to the application which is necessary to adequately evaluate the application under this subpart.

(c) RUS may also request modifications or changes, including changes in the amount of funds requested, in any proposal described in an application submitted under this subpart.

(d) The applicant must submit a completed application within the application window and guidelines for an eligible program.

§1700.109   RUS review.

(a) RUS will review the application to determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive consideration under this subpart and whether the application is timely, complete, and responsive to the requirements set forth in 7 CFR 1700.107.

(b) If the Administrator determines that the application is eligible to receive consideration under this subpart and one or more SUTA requests are granted, the applicant will be so notified.

(c) If RUS determines that the application is not eligible to receive further consideration under this subpart, RUS will so notify the applicant. The applicant may withdraw its application or request that RUS treat its application as an ordinary application for review, feasibility analysis and service area verification by RUS consistent with the regulations and guidelines normally applicable to the relevant program.

§§1700.110-1700.149   [Reserved]

§1700.150   OMB Control Number.

The reporting and recordkeeping requirements contained in this part have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget and have been assigned OMB control number 0572-0147.



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