FARM BILL ASSISTANCE - SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, CA

Introduction:
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an Agency of the Department of Agriculture, works with private landowners through conservation planning and assistance designed to benefit soil, water, air, plants, and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems.



NRCS's natural resources conservation programs help land owners reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters.

NRCS achieves much of its conservation work through conservation programs under the Farm Bill including:
• The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who face threats to soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land.

Through EQIP, NRCS provides financial incentives to producers to promote agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals, optimize environmental benefits, and help farmers and ranchers meet Federal, State, Tribal, and local environmental regulations.

• The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), a voluntary program for private landowners to develop and improve high quality habitat that supports wildlife populations of National, State, Tribal, and local significance.

Through WHIP, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial assistance.

• The Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP).

AWEP provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to assist them in applying agricultural water enhancement activities that conserve ground and surface water and improve water quality on agricultural lands.

• The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by undertaking additional conservation activities and improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities.

(For more information on these and other NRCS programs see:
www.nrcs.usda.gov) Background:
Applicants will be responsible for working in conjunction with NRCS in San Joaquin County, CA to provide technical assistance and outreach to private landowners (producers) to strengthen, increase, and encourage the voluntary approach and participation in USDA Farm Bill Programs administered by NRCS as well as facilitate program execution and conservation delivery.

Work performed under this agreement will focus on accelerating implementation of conservation practices by participants in USDA Farm Bill Programs and administrative support and coordination related to program execution.

It will involve direct contact with landowners and land managers.

The successful applicant will work in conjunction with NRCS staff to perform field visits and carry out a follow-up schedule for applying soil conservation practices in accordance with plans developed by professional planning technicians.

Work will also include, in cooperation with NRCS staff, planning and delivering of community outreach events.

NRCS expects to award one cooperative agreement based on proposals submitted and benefits derived for the current fiscal year.

The funding ceiling available for the current fiscal year is:
$55,00 0. Any agreements resulting from this solicitation will have a one-year base period and three one-year options.

Activities under this cooperative agreement will be carried out from approximately July 1, 2012 through September 30, 201 3. Scope of Work:
The successful applicant will be responsible for working with NRCS offices in San Joaquin County, California to coordinate technical and administrative service activities that are necessary to accelerate the implementation and tracking of new and prior year Farm Bill contracts.

Activities will include:
• Assist in facilitating producer participation in USDA Farm Bill Programs.

This will include assisting in outreach to producers, providing information about conservation programs, answering producer questions about conservation and USDA programs, assisting with screening and ranking of applications, processing and determinations regarding eligibility, processing applications of incoming contracts, and contract technical planning.

• Assist with conducting field checks of contract based conservation practice implementation for payment.

This will involve meeting with program participants to verify that installed practices under conservation contracts with NRCS meet NRCS standards and specifications set in the Field Office Technical Guide (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/efotg/) as well as physical measurements of structural conservation practices and visual assessment of vegetative conservation practices.

• Assist with providing technical assistance to producers with conservation management practices in existing contracts including collecting and evaluating producer records.

• Assist with completion of Status Reviews of existing contracts including meeting with participants to assess need for technical assistance to ensure timely implementation of conservation practices.

• Assist with spot checks on existing Conservation Security Program (CSP) contract enhancements.

• Assist with outreach and networking to ensure fair delivery of USDA programs.

The successful applicant will participate in interagency meetings to coordinate delivery of Conservation Programs in local communities.

The successful applicant will submit quarterly reports of progress tracking progress on all tasks and submit a year-end report documenting accomplishments.

All services provided in conservation planning, conservation practice application or verification, and other technical assistance must meet USDA-NRCS standards and specifications as set forth in the NRCS regulations.

(for more information on these regulations see:
www.nrcs.usda.gov) NRCS will be substantially involved in carrying out the work covered by this cooperative agreement.

NRCS will also provide a representative to participate in the planning and management of the cooperative agreement and coordinate activities.

NRCS will provide oversight and as necessary, agency software, forms, and other resource information.

Evaluation Criteria – Listed in Descending Order of Importance 1. Organizational Capabilities – the adequacy of organizational resources and experience to successfully manage and perform the project.

This includes background and experience of staff that will completes the tasks in a professional manner and reflect a positive image of NRCS.

2. Knowledge of conservation issues in San Joaquin County, CA and NRCS practice standards and specifications related to those conservation issues.

3. Ability to work with NRCS and local producers on conservation issues.

4. Knowledge of local and State ordinances and regulations related to implementing conservation practices in San Joaquin County, CA Each proposal will be evaluated and ranked in accordance with the evaluation factors listed above.

Discussions may be held with each applicant regarding the applicant’s experience, the proposed plan of action or alternative courses of action.

After selection, NRCS will enter into negotiations with the selected applicant to discuss cost and the terms and conditions of the cooperative agreement to be signed.

Related Programs

Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Department of Agriculture


Agency: California State Office

Office:

Estimated Funding: $55,000


Who's Eligible


Relevant Nonprofit Program Categories



Obtain Full Opportunity Text:
http://www.grants.ihs.gov/index.cfm?module=HHS-2008-IHS-PHN-0002

Additional Information of Eligibility:
See full announcement for eligibility.



Full Opportunity Web Address:


Contact:


Agency Email Description:


Agency Email:
kimberly.pedersen@ca.usda.gov

Date Posted:
2012-05-31

Application Due Date:
2012-06-22

Archive Date:
2012-07-22



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