DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Agricultural Research Project Contractors
[50 Pa.B. 2396]
[Saturday, May 9, 2020]
The Department of Agriculture (Department) is soliciting applications to conduct agricultural research on one or more of the following research topic areas, with the research to be conducted from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, with the possibility, but not the assurance, of extending that research into subsequent years. All funding is contingent upon 2020-2021 budget appropriations.
This notice establishes the procedures by which grant applications will be solicited and reviewed, and by which grants will be awarded.
1. Grant Solicitation. The Department will accept grant applications for the purposes, in the form and according to the schedule set forth as follows. Additional publication and dissemination of this notice shall be made to applicants who have previously submitted grant applications to or received grants from the Department, as well as any individuals or entities who have requested notification from the Department of grant availability.
2. Research Topic Areas. The research topics the Department is interested in funding are as follows:
a. Ongoing multiyear research projects. The Department has, in previous years, provided funding for various multiyear research projects that might be continued or extended to complete research the Department identifies as addressing continued priorities of the agricultural industry, such as:
• Mitigating the impact of pests like Phorid Flies and Spotted Lanternflies.
• Examining the economic impact of pest infestations like Phorid Flies and Spotted Lanternflies.
• Measuring pesticide impacts on organic and other sensitive crops.
• Implementing Chapter 5 of the Pennsylvania Pollinator Protection Plan (see https://ento.psu.edu/pollinators/pollin-spotlight-items/the-pennsylvania-pollinator-protection-plan-p4).
The Department will consider proposals to continue supporting these and other types of previously-funded research.
b. Resource conservation, climate and the quality of our soil, water and air. The Department is seeking new proposals that address agriculture's role in stewarding natural resources and innovations in combatting and adapting to climate change. Specifically, the Department requests applications for projects that:
• Provide ongoing water quality monitoring in high-priority streams identified in version 3 of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan.
• Provide ongoing air quality monitoring around high-priority production areas, particularly mushroom facilities in Chester and Berks Counties.
• Quantify the benefits to soil health and climate change resiliency from best management practices (BMP) in conservation.
• Quantify reductions in carbon emissions through on-farm energy efficiency measures.
• Identify opportunities in agricultural production practices that could be conducted concurrently with solar energy production.
• Integrate silvopasture and other agro-forestry revenue streams into dairy, livestock or poultry farms.
• Identify soil testing and remediation strategies for urban agriculture.
• Assess the adoption and implementation of BMPs by farmers that are part of conservation plans to ensure compliance and appropriate credit is received.
• Identify and determine the applicability and effectiveness of nutrient management technologies to assist the Commonwealth in assessing the utility of various approaches.
c. Innovations in agricultural production and processing. The Department seeks applications that address new opportunities in both agricultural production and value-added processing of agricultural production in either or both food and nonfood arenas, such as:
• Crop varieties that may offer greater climate resilience.
• Feeding trials on crops that offer promise as new livestock feed sources.
• Sensor technologies that offer affordable measuring of soil health, including water retention.
• Pharmaceutical or industrial uses for milk proteins or other milk components.
• Beverages that blend milk with fruit juices.
• Beverage packaging that is easily recycled or biodegradable.
• Packaging that makes milk available in individual servings or multipacks of individual servings.
• Any other innovation that:
o Facilitates agriculture's continued economic vitality.
o Assures the health and safety of consumers, plants and animals.
o Assures agricultural stewardship of natural resources.
3. Grant Agreement. The terms and conditions of the grant will be governed by a grant agreement between the Department and the applicant which shall be tendered to the applicant for execution, returnable in no more than 30 days. The Department may require that the grant agreement be submitted and executed electronically.
4. Application Delivery and Deadline. Interested applicants must submit a complete electronic research project proposal and grant application using the Department of Community and Economic Development's Electronic Single Application web site at https://www.esa.dced.state.pa.us/Login.aspx on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, by 4 p.m. Questions regarding this online application process may be directed to Morgan Sheffield, Grants Coordinator for the Department of Agriculture, at (717) 787-3568.
5. Scoring of Applications. The Department will evaluate each complete and timely-filed project proposal and grant application it receives, using a 100-point scale assessing:
a. Up to 10 points for the research project needs statement.
b. Up to 15 points for the impact of research outcomes.
c. Up to 5 points for the presence of additional funding partners or matching funds.
d. Up to 30 points for the research methodology.
e. Up to 20 points for project evaluation and replicability.
f. Up to 20 points for support and participation from industry.
6. Scores. Upon completion of evaluations, the Department will prepare a record identifying each complete and timely-filed project proposal and grant application received and the numerical score assigned to each. The Department shall award grants based upon its evaluation and scoring.
7. Multiyear Projects or Extensions. The Department may award grant funding for multiyear projects or extensions of an ongoing project, if the Department identifies that a multiyear term or an extension advances the grant's objectives. Requests for extensions of ongoing projects shall be made, evaluated and processed in accordance with all the requirements of this notice.
8. Notice of Award. Applicants shall be notified by mail of the decision on their grant applications by the Department. Best efforts will be made to do so within 15 days of the application deadline.
9. Grant Agreement. With the mailed grant award notice, the Department will provide applicants with a grant agreement for execution and return within 30 days or instructions as to finalizing the grant agreement electronically. The Department will obtain the required Commonwealth signatures on the grant agreements and return a copy of the fully-executed grant agreement to the applicant. The grant agreement is not effective, and work should not begin until all required signatures have been applied to the grant agreement. Among the terms of the grant agreement shall be a requirement that the grant recipient provide the Department full and complete access to all records relating to the performance of the project and submit such information as the Department may require.
10. Nonmatching Cost-Reimbursable Grant. Grants made hereunder do not require the applicant secure or devote a matching sum to the project, but outside funding may be considered as an evaluation criterion under section 5(c) of this solicitation. Payment of grant funds will occur on a reimbursement basis, with the possibility upon the written submission of justification and subsequent approval of the Department of an advance payment option.
11. Allowable Indirect Cost Reimbursement. Grants made hereunder are subject to an indirect cost cap of 15% of total project costs. For the purpose of this research grant funding solicitation, indirect costs shall include administrative salaries and benefits, office supplies and equipment, facility related cost including maintenance and repairs, telephones, memberships/dues, freight/postage cost and any consultant related costs associated with the administration of this research grant.
12. Reporting Requirements. Upon completion of research projects funded through this program, grant recipients will submit to the Department within 60 days a final report detailing the nature of the questions under study, an explanation of the research design and methods, findings of the research and recommendations for future study.
RUSSELL C. REDDING,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 20-633. Filed for public inspection May 8, 2020, 9:00 a.m.]
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