72 FR 55013, Sept. 28, 2007, unless otherwise noted.
This part outlines the Rural Utilities Service's (RUS), an agency delivering the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development Utilities Programs, hereinafter referred to as Rural Development and/or Agency, policies and procedures for servicing direct and insured Water and Waste Disposal (WWD) loans and grants; Watershed loans and advances; Resource Conservation and Development loans; Technical Assistance and Training grants; Emergency Community Water Assistance grants; Solid Waste Management grants; and section 306C WWD loans and grants.
Loan and grant servicing is provided by Rural Development in order to assist recipients in complying with the established objectives and requirements for loans and grants, repaying loans on schedule, acting in accordance with any necessary agreements, and protecting Rural Development's financial interest. Servicing by Rural Development includes, but is not limited to, the review of budgets, management reports, audits, and financial statements; performing operational inspections; providing, arranging, or recommending technical assistance; evaluating environmental impacts of proposed actions by the borrower; and performing civil rights compliance and graduation reviews.
The following definitions apply to this part:
Acceleration. A written notice informing the borrower that the total unpaid principal and interest is due and payable immediately.
Adjustment. Satisfaction of a debt, including release of liability, when acceptance by the Agency is conditioned upon completion of payment of the adjusted amount at a specific time or times, with or without the payment of any consideration when the adjustment offer is approved. An adjustment is not a final settlement until all payments under the adjustment agreement have been made.
Administrator. Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service, an agency delivering the United States Department of Agriculture's Utilities Programs.
Agency. The Rural Utilities Service, an Agency delivering the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Utilities Programs, or any employee acting on its behalf in accordance with appropriate delegations of authority.
Assumption of debt. Agreement by one party to legally bind itself to pay the debt incurred by another.
Borrower. Recipient of Agency or predecessor Agency loan assistance.
Cancellation. Final discharge of debt with a release of liability.
Charge-off. Write off of a debt and termination of servicing activity without release of liability. A charge-off is a decision by the Agency to remove debt from Agency receivables, however, future payments may be received.
Compromise. Satisfaction of a debt including a release of liability by accepting a lump-sum payment of less than the total amount owed.
Defeasance. Defeasance is the use of invested proceeds from a new bond issue to repay outstanding bonds in accordance with the repayment schedule of the outstanding bonds. The new issue supersedes the contractual agreements from the prior issue.
Disposition of facility. Relinquishing control of a facility to another entity.
False information. Information, known by the applicant to be incorrect, provided with the intent to obtain benefits which would not have been obtainable based on correct information.
Government. The United States of America, acting through the Agency. USDA, Rural Development and Agency may be used interchangeably throughout this part.
Grantee. Recipient of Agency or predecessor Agency grant assistance, technical assistance, or services.
Letter of Conditions. A written document that describes the conditions which the borrower and/or grantee must meet for funds to be advanced and the loan and/or grant to be closed.
Liquidation. Satisfaction of a debt through the sale of a borrower's assets and discharge of liabilities.
Parity Lien. A lien having an equal lien position to another lender's lien on a borrower's asset.
Reasonable rates and terms. The prevailing commercial rates and terms in the industry that borrowers are expected to pay when borrowing for similar purposes and periods of time.
Rural Development. The mission area of the Under Secretary for Rural Development. Rural Development State and local offices administer the water and waste programs on behalf of the Agency.
Rural Utilities Service (RUS). An Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Development mission area established pursuant to section 232 of the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 (Pub. L. 103-354).
Servicing office. The USDA office which maintains the official file of the borrower or grantee and is responsible for the routine servicing of the loan and/or grant account.
Servicing official. USDA official who has been delegated loan and grant approval and servicing authorities subject to any dollar limitations within applicable programs.
Settlement. Compromise, adjustment, cancellation, or charge-off of a debt owed USDA. The term “settlement” is used for convenience in referring to compromise, adjustment, cancellation, or charge-off action, individually or collectively.
Unliquidated obligations. Obligated loan or grant funds that have not been advanced.
USDA. United States Department of Agriculture.
Voluntary conveyance. A method by which title to security is voluntarily transferred to the Government.
Information about the availability of forms, regulations, bulletins, and procedures referenced in this chapter are available in any office of Rural Development USDA, Washington, DC 20250-1500 or at the Web site http://www.usda.gov/rus/water.
Each instrument of conveyance required for a transfer, assumption, sale of facility, or other servicing action under this subpart will comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub. L. 88-352), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Pub. L. 92-318), section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Pub. L. 93-112), and other Federal statutes and regulations issued pursuant thereto that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, handicap, religion, age, or sex in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance. Such provisions apply for as long as the property continues to be used for the same or similar purposes for which the Federal assistance was extended, or for so long as the purchaser owns it, whichever is later.
Servicing actions relating to Agency grants are governed by the provisions of several regulations and executive orders, including, but not limited to, 2 CFR part 200 as adopted by 2 CFR part 400, and 2 CFR parts 415, 416, 417, and 418 and Executive Order (E.O.) 12803. Grantees remain responsible for property acquired with grant funds in accordance with terms of a grant agreement and applicable regulations.
[79 FR 76006, Dec. 19, 2014]
Payments will be applied in accordance with the terms of the debt instrument. Information on nontypical payments can be obtained from the Servicing official or office. All new borrowers will use pre-authorized debits as required in their Letter of Conditions.
Servicing actions involving lease or sale of Agency-owned property must comply with the environmental review requirements in accordance with 7 CFR part 1970.
[81 FR 11029, Mar. 2, 2016]
Audits for loans will be required in accordance with § 1780.47 of this chapter. If the borrower becomes delinquent or is experiencing problems, the servicing official will require an audit or other documentation deemed necessary to resolve the delinquency. The provisions of subpart F of 2 CFR part 200, as adopted by USDA through 2 CFR part 400, address audit requirements for recipients of Federal assistance.
[79 FR 76006, Dec. 19, 2014]
If at any time it appears to the Government that the borrower is able to refinance the amount of the indebtedness then outstanding, in whole or in part, by obtaining a loan for such purposes from responsible cooperative or private credit sources, at reasonable rates and terms, the borrower will, upon request of the Government, apply for and accept such loan in sufficient amount to repay the Government and will take all such actions as may be required in connection with such loan.
A cash sale of all or a portion of a borrower's assets or an exchange of security property may be approved subject to the conditions set forth in this section.
(a) Approval conditions. Approval may be given when the servicing official determines that:
(1) The consideration is for the full amount of the debt or the present fair market value as determined by an appraisal completed by a qualified Rural Development employee or an independent appraiser as determined appropriate by the approval official;
(2) The sale or exchange will not prevent carrying out the purpose of the loan;
(3) The remaining property is adequate security for the loan and the transaction will not adversely affect the Agency's security position;
(4) If the property to be sold or exchanged will be used for similar purposes that the loan was made, the purchaser will:
(i) Execute Form RD 400-4, “Assurance Agreement.” The instrument of conveyance will contain the civil rights covenant referenced in 7 CFR 1901.202(e); and
(ii) Provide the Agency with a written agreement assuming all rights and obligations of the original borrower, and
(5) Proceeds remaining after paying any reasonable and necessary selling expenses are to be used for one or more of the following purposes:
(i) To pay Agency debt, pay on debts secured by a prior lien, and pay on debts secured by a parity or subsequent lien if it is to the Agency's advantage;
(ii) To purchase or acquire property more suited to the borrower's needs, providing the Agency's security position is maintained; and
(iii) To develop or enlarge the facility if necessary to improve the borrower's debt-paying ability, place the operation on a sounder financial basis, or further the loan objectives and purposes.
(b) Sale of assets financed with Agency grants. The requirements for the sale or disposition of assets financed with Agency grants are determined by the terms of the grant agreement, 7 CFR parts 3015, 3016, and 3019, and E.O. 12803, as applicable.
(c) Release from liability. If a borrower can no longer meet the objectives of the loan, the property may be sold. If the full amount of the borrower's debt is paid or assumed, the State Director may release the borrower from liability.
It is the Agency's policy to approve transfers and assumptions to transferees that will continue the original purpose of the loan. Assistant Administrator written concurrence is required when the transfer exceeds the State Director's loan approval authority. The transfer will be approved in accordance with the following requirements:
(a) General requirements for transferees. The fulfillment of the following requirements for transfers will be determined by the approval official, in his or her discretion:
(2) The transfer will not be disadvantageous to the Government as determined by the approval official.
(3) If the Agency debt(s) exceeds the present market value of the security as determined by an appraisal, the transferee will assume an amount at least equal to the present market value.
(4) The Agency must concur in plans for disposition of funds in any reserve account, including project construction bank accounts. A reserve account may be considered as a transferable asset.
(5) The transferee will assume all of the borrower's responsibilities regarding loans. The transferee will also agree to accept the original loan conditions plus any conditions set forth by the Agency with regard to the transfer.
(6) A current appraisal will be completed to establish the present market value of the security when the full debt is not being assumed.
(7) There must be no lien, judgement, or similar claims of other parties against the Agency security being transferred unless the transferee is willing to accept such claims. The Agency must also determine that the claims will not prevent the transferee from repaying the Agency debt, meeting all operating and maintenance costs, and maintaining required reserves. The written consent of any other lienholder will be obtained where required.
(8) A letter of conditions establishing requirements to be met in connection with the transfer will be issued, and the transferee will be required to execute Form RD 1942-46, “Letter of Intent to Meet Conditions,” prior to closing of the transfer.
(9) The transferee will obtain insurance according to Agency requirements.
(10) The effective date of the transfer is the date the transfer is closed, which is the same date Form RD 1951-15, “Community Programs Assumption Agreement,” or other appropriate assumption agreement which is executed and delivered by all necessary parties.
(11) Title to all assets will be conveyed from the transferor to the transferee unless all parties concerned, including the Agency, agree upon other arrangements. All instruments of conveyance will contain the necessary nondiscrimination covenant as referred to in § 1782.5.
(12) If the transfer and assumption is to one or more members of the borrower's organization, there must not be a loss to the Government.
(13) The State Director is authorized to approve transfers to eligible transferees at the same interest rate as on the borrower's note(s) or bond(s). The maturity of the debt instrument for the assumed debt may not exceed the lesser of the repayment period authorized in 7 CFR part 1780 for a “new” loan or the expected life of the facility.
(b) Loan requirements for eligible transferees. If a loan is evidenced and secured by a note and lien on real or chattel property, Form RD 1951-15, or other appropriate assumption agreement will be executed by the transferee. If a bond secures a loan, transfer documents will be developed by bond counsel and approved by the Office of the General Counsel (OGC), USDA.
(1) Loans being transferred and assumed may be combined when the security is the same, new terms are being provided, a new debt instrument will be issued, and the loans have the same interest rate and are for the same purpose. If applicable, 7 CFR part 1780 will govern the preparation of any new debt instruments required.
(2) A loan may be made in connection with a transfer if the transferee meets all eligibility and other requirements for the kind of loan being made. Such a loan will be considered as a separate loan and must be evidenced by a separate debt instrument. However, it is permissible to have one authorizing loan resolution or ordinance if permitted by State statutes.
(3) Any development funds remaining in a bank account that are not refunded to the Agency will be transferred to a bank account for the transferee. This will occur simultaneously with the closing of the transfer, and the funds will be used in completing planned development.
(c) Release from liability. Transferors may be released from liability when their debt is paid in full or when the debt is settled in accordance with § 1782.20 of this part.
(a) 7 U.S.C. 1926(b) was enacted to protect the service area of Agency borrowers with outstanding loans, or those loans sold in the sale of assets authorized by the “Joint Resolution Making Continuing Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 1987, Pub. L. 99-591, 100 Stat. 3341 (1986),” from loss of users due to actions or activities of other entities in the service area of the Agency financed system. Without this protection, other entities could extend service to users within the service area, and thereby undermine the purpose of the congressionally mandated water and waste loan and grant programs and jeopardize the borrower's ability to repay its Agency debt.
(b) Responsibility for initiating action in response to those actions prohibited by 7 U.S.C. 1926(b) rests with the borrower.
Mergers and consolidations will be processed the same as a transfer and assumption, although approvals by the Agency will give consideration to the differences under the applicable law regarding the type of transaction under consideration and the unique facts involved in each transaction. Mergers occur when two or more entities combine in such a manner that only one remains in existence. Consolidations occur when two or more entities combine to form a new consolidated entity, and the original entities cease to exist. In both mergers and consolidations, the surviving or emerging entity acquires the assets and assumes the liabilities of the entity or entities that ceased to exist.
Defeasance, or amending outstanding loan instruments and agreements to permit defeasance of Agency debt instruments, is prohibited.
In order for the Agency to agree to a parity lien position, the borrower must submit a written request to the servicing office.
(a) The written request for parity must contain the following items:
(1) An explanation of the purpose of the request for parity; amount of loan for which parity is requested; description of security property; type of security instrument; name and address of financial institution requesting the transaction; and other information determined necessary by the servicing official to evaluate the request.
(2) Current financial statements or an audit, if available or determined necessary by the servicing official.
(3) An annual operating budget which projects income and expenses for a typical year's operation. If construction is involved, the budget must be projected through the first full year of operation following completion of the planned improvements.
(4) A copy of the proposed security instrument.
(5) A certification from the borrower that the Agency debt cannot be refinanced at reasonable rates and terms.
(6) An appraisal, when the primary security is real estate or determined necessary by the servicing official in order to determine the adequacy of loan security or repayment ability.
(7) A certification that any development work will comply with subpart C of part 1780 of this chapter.
(b) Requests for parity must comply with requirements of paragraph (a) of this section, requirements as specified in the bond or loan documents, the requirements as specified in 7 CFR part 1780, subpart D, and as provided in applicable State law.
(c) If the borrower has met all of the requirements in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section and the proposal is determined to be in the Government's interest, the Agency will then grant approval of the borrower's request for parity. The following factors will be considered in assessing whether the request is in the Government's interest:
(1) The value of the added assets compared with the amount of new debt to be secured;
(2) The value of the assets already pledged under the security documents, and any effects of the proposed transaction on the value of those assets;
(3) The ratio of the total outstanding debt secured under the security documents to the value of all assets pledged as security under the security documents;
(4) The borrower's ability to repay its debt owed to the Government;
(5) The overall financial viability of the borrower;
(6) The borrower's current relationship with the Agency (i.e. no defaults under the loan documents);
(7) Such other factors that may be relevant in individual cases, as determined by the Agency.
The State Director may authorize third party operation, maintenance, and management of an Agency financed facility. The borrower's attorney must review the contract, management agreement, written lease, or other third party agreement and issue an opinion to the Agency as to their legal sufficiency. The borrower shall retain the legal authority necessary for owning, constructing, operating, and maintaining the facility.
Pursuant to 7 U.S.C. 1981, this section prescribes policies for debt settlement of Water and Waste Disposal loans; Watershed loans and advances; Resource Conservation and Development loans; and 306 (c) Water and Waste Facility loans. Within the Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134) is the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996. This law provides that any non-tax debt or claim owed to the United States that has been delinquent for a period of 180 days shall be turned over to the Secretary of the Treasury for appropriate action to collect or terminate collection actions on the debt or claim. Debt that is in litigation or foreclosure, with a collection agency or designated Federal debt collection center, or that will be disposed of under an asset sales program, is exempt from transfer to the Secretary.
(a) General requirements for debt settlement.
(1) The debt or any extension thereof on which settlement is requested must be due and payable. The debt will be due and payable either under the terms of the note or other instrument, or by acceleration, unless the debt is to be cancelled without application under paragraph (e)(2) of this section or charged off under paragraph (f) of this section.
(2) Normally, all security will be disposed of prior to the date of application for debt settlement unless it is necessary to abandon security through the debt settlement process. In such cases, debt settlement may proceed if the servicing official determines that further collection efforts would be ineffective, uneconomical, and not in the best interests of the Government.
(3) Debtors will not be permitted to sell security and use the proceeds as part or all of a compromise/adjustment debt settlement offer.
(4) Requests for debt settlement will consist of Form RD 1956-1 “Application For Settlement of Indebtedness,” current financial information, description and estimated market value of collateral, and status of operation (i.e., number of users, compliance with environmental issues, etc.).
(5) Office of General Counsel (OGC) advice on compliance with State or Federal statutes that may affect the debt settlement action must be requested.
(b) Debts ineligible for settlement. Debts will not be settled if:
(1) Referral to the Office of Inspector General and/or to OGC is contemplated or pending because of suspected criminal violation,
(2) Civil action to protect the interest of the Government is contemplated or pending,
(3) An investigation for suspected fiscal irregularity is contemplated or pending, or
(4) The debtor requests settlement of a claim that has been referred to or a judgment obtained by the United States Attorney. The settlement offer and any related payment must be submitted directly to the United States Attorney for consideration.
(c) Types of debt settlement. Typically, debt settlement will be accomplished through compromise/adjustment, charge-off, or cancellation. Any debt remaining after the security has been liquidated, by sale or transfer, will be cancelled if there are no other assets from which to collect the debt. The servicing official will proceed with advice from OGC and the National Office, as required.
(d) Compromise and adjustment. Debts may be compromised or adjusted and security retained by the debtor, provided:
(1) The debtor is unable to pay the indebtedness in full,
(2) The debtor has offered an amount equal to the present fair market value of all security or facility financed, and
(3) The debtor has offered any additional amount that the debtor is able to pay.
(e) Cancellation. Non-judgment debts, regardless of the amount, may be cancelled with or without application by the debtor.
(1) With application by the debtor. Debts may be cancelled upon application of the debtor, subject to the following conditions:
(i) The servicing official furnishes a favorable recommendation concerning the cancellation;
(ii) There is no known security for the debt and the debtor has no other assets from which the debt could be collected;
(iii) The debtor is unable to pay any part of the debt, and has no reasonable prospect of being able to do so; and
(iv) The debt or any extension thereof is due and payable under the terms of the note or other instrument or due to acceleration by written notice prior to the date of application.
(2) Without application by debtor. Debts may be cancelled upon a favorable recommendation of the servicing official in the following instances:
(i) Debtors discharged in bankruptcy. If there is no security for the debt, debts discharged in bankruptcy shall be cancelled by the use of Form RD 1956-1. A copy of the Bankruptcy Court's Discharge Order must be attached.
(ii) Impractical to obtain debtor's signature. Debts may be cancelled if it is impractical to obtain a signed application and the requirements of paragraphs (e)(1) of this section are met. Form RD 1956-1 will document the specific reason(s) why it was impossible or impracticable to obtain the signature of the debtor. If the debtor refused to sign the application, the reason(s) should be documented.
(f) Charge-off -
(1) Judgment debts. Judgment debts, regardless of the amount, may be charged off without the debtor's signature upon a favorable recommendation of the servicing official provided:
(i) The United States Attorney's file is closed, and
(ii) The requirements of paragraph (e)(2)(ii) of this section, if applicable, have been met, or 2 years have elapsed since any collections were made on the judgment. The debtor must also have no equity in the property subject to the lien or upon which a lien can be obtained.
(2) Non-judgment debts. Debts that cannot be settled under other sections of this part may be charged off without the debtor's signature upon a favorable recommendation of the servicing official in the following instances:
(i) When OGC advises in writing that the claim is legally without merit or that evidence necessary to prove the claim in court cannot be provided; or
(ii) When there is no known security for the debt, the debtor has no other assets from which the debt could be collected, and the debtor:
(A) Is unable to pay any part of the debt and has no reasonable prospect of being able to do so; or
(B) Is able to pay part or all of the debt but refuses to do so, and OGC provides an opinion to the effect that the Government cannot enforce collection of a significant amount from assets or income.
The Administrator may, in individual cases, make an exception to any requirement or provision of this part which is not inconsistent with the authorizing statute or other applicable law and is determined to be in the Government's interest. Requests for exceptions must be made in writing by the State Director and supported with documentation to explain the adverse effect on the Government's interest, propose alternative course(s) of action, and show how the adverse affect will be eliminated or minimized if the exception is granted. The exception decision will be documented in writing, signed by the Administrator, and retained in the files.
(a) If, after making a loan or a grant, the Administrator determines that the circumstances under which the loan or grant was made have sufficiently changed to make the project or activity for which the loan or grant was made available no longer appropriate, the Administrator may allow the borrower or grantee to use property (real and personal) purchased or improved with the loan or grant funds, or proceeds from the sale of property (real and personal) purchased with such funds, for another project or activity that:
(1) Will be carried out in the same area as the original project or activity;
(2) Meets the criteria for a loan or grant described in section 381E(d) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (Pub. L. 87-128), as amended; and
(3) Satisfies such additional requirements as are established by the Administrator.
(b) If the new use of the property is under the authority of another USDA Agency Administrator, the other Administrator will be consulted on whether the new use will meet the criteria of the other program. Since the new project or activity must be carried out in the same area as the original project or activity, a new rural area determination will not be necessary.
(c) Borrowers and grantees that wish to use the proceeds for other purposes may make their request through the appropriate Rural Development State Office. Permission to use this option will be exercised on a case-by-case-basis on applications submitted through the State Office to the Administrator for consideration. If the proposal is approved, the Administrator will issue a memorandum to the State Director outlining the conditions necessary to complete the transaction.
The information collection requirements in this part are approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and assigned OMB Control Number 0572-0137.