The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), administers the Substantially Underserved Trust Area ("SUTA") provisions of the Food, Conservation & Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill). The Farm Bill defines trust areas as “trust land” as defined in Title 38 Section 3765 of the United States Code. A “substantially underserved” trust area is a community in a trust area that the Secretary of Agriculture determines has a high need for assistance. “Underserved” is defined as an area or community lacking an adequate level or quality of service.
The SUTA provisions authorize the RUS to provide tools to help finance improvements in electric, telecommunications, water and sewer infrastructure in SUTA.
The statute provides the RUS discretionary authority to offer interest rates as low as 2%; waive non-duplication requirements; waive matching or credit support requirements; extend repayment terms and give eligible applications the highest funding priority when projects serve SUTA.
The following USDA programs can offer benefits through SUTA to qualified applicants:
- Rural Electrification Direct and Guaranteed Loans;
- High Energy Cost Grants;
- Water and Waste Disposal Direct and Guaranteed Loans;
- Water and Waste Disposal Grants;
- Broadband Direct and Guaranteed Loans; and
- Telecommunications Infrastructure Direct and Guaranteed Loans
7 CFR 1700, Subpart D is the regulation that governs the implementation of the SUTA provisions. All potential SUTA applicants should review the complete regulation prior to requesting SUTA consideration. The full regulation can be accessed here.