**This note is for the Federal Register link above: The effective date is May 11, 2020, and the 60-day comment period ends on May 11, 2020. This rule implements sections 6201, 6205, 6207, 6208, 6209, and 6212 of the 2018 Farm Bill. This rule has provisions in it for submitting comments. If you wish to submit comments, please follow the process in the Federal Register Notice. The program remains closed for funding and will not open until such time as a Solicitation of Applications is published.
Announcement: The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a Rural Development Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is issuing a final rule to amend its regulations to address its ‘‘Buy American’’ requirement.
What does this program do?
The Rural Broadband Loans, Loan/Grant Combinations, and Loan Guarantees (Farm Bill Broadband Program) furnishes loans and loan guarantees to provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide service at the broadband lending speed in eligible rural areas. For more information on other programs administered by RUS Telecommunications please visit: http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/all-programs/telecom-programs
Who may apply?
To be eligible for a broadband loan, an applicant may be either a non-profit or for-profit organization, and must take one of the following forms:
• Limited liability company (LLC);
• Cooperative or mutual organization;
• A state or local unit of government
• Indian tribe or tribal organization
Individuals and Partnerships are not Eligible.
Corporations that have been convicted of a felony (or had an officer or agent acting on behalf of the corporation convicted of a felony) within the past 24 months are not eligible. Any Corporation that has any unpaid federal tax liability that has been assessed, for which all judicial and administrative remedies have been exhausted or have lapsed, and that is not being paid in a timely manner pursuant to an agreement with the authority responsible for collecting the tax liability, is not eligible for financial assistance provided with funds appropriated by the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012, P.L. No. 112-55.
What is an eligible area?
• Proposed funded service areas must be completely contained within a rural area or composed of multiple rural areas, as defined in 7 CFR 1738
• At least 15 percent of the households in the proposed funded service area are unserved,
• No part of the proposed funded service area has three or more “incumbent service providers.”
• No part of the proposed funded service area overlaps with the service area of current RUS borrowers or the service areas of grantees that were funded by RUS.
Communities where USDA Rural Utilities Service has previously provided funding for construction of broadband infrastructure may not be eligible.
In order to be counted as a broadband service provider for eligibility purposes, a Public Notice Response must be submitted once a Public Notice Filing has been published for each applicant’s Proposed Funded Service Area. Those interested in receiving email notifications whenever a new application has been submitted and the Public Notice Filing has been published can do so by signing up for our Public Notice Filing subscription service.
How may the funds be used?
Broadband loans provide funding on a technology-neutral basis for financing:
- The construction, improvement, and acquisition of facilities required to provide service at the broadband lending speed including facilities required for providing other services through the same facilities
- The cost of leasing facilities required to provide service at the broadband Lending speed if such lease qualifies as a capital lease under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
- An acquisition, under certain circumstances and with restrictions
- For additional detail see 7 CFR 1738
What kind of funding is available?
Direct Loans : Cost of Money Loans
What are the loan terms?
- In general Loan Terms are limited to the expected composite economic life of the assets to be financed plus 3 years.
Who currently participates in this program?
Refer to our Telecommunications Program Funded Service Areas Map to view current RUS-funded projects.
How to get started?
To apply for Farm Bill Broadband funding, visit RD Apply, our newly developed, online application intake system.
Who can answer questions about this program?
- Contact our Loan Origination and Approval Division at (202) 720-0800
- Contact the General Field Representative who serves your area
What governs this program?
- This program is authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014, Title VI, Sub. Title A Sec. 6001 (2014 Farm Bill)
- 7CFR chapter 1738
- Federal Register Interim Rule July 30, 2015
- Federal Register Final Rule June 9,2016
NOTE: Program details may change over time. Before you begin an application, please confirm you have the most current information by contacting a General Field Representative who serves your area for assistance or consult the program Instructions listed in the section above titled "What Governs this Program?"
Webinar presentations slides (PDF) for the Community Connect Grant and Farm Bill Broadband Loan Program, Environmental Requirements.
RD Apply – Online Application Intake System Resources:
- Farm Bill Application Guide
- RD Apply – Telecom Customer User Guide
- Telecom Board Resolution – ARR-Sec. Cert.
- Telecom Board Resolution-ARR-LLC
- RD Apply FAQ
- BB Mortgage
- BB Loan Agreement
- BB Note
- Open Letter From Assistant Administrator to submit dual Operating Reports through the on-line Data Collection System ("DCS") and Borrower Collection and Analysis system ("BCAS").
- Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA)(2018)
- Webinar presentations for the Environmental Requirements
- Online Application Intake System Resources Telecommunications Program Funded Service Areas Map
To locate the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Advance and Construction Procedures Guide (Non-ARRA) (PDF), please click RUS Bulletin 1738-2
RUS Forms and Publications Link :
- Effective October 18, 2016, all RUS equipment procurement will need to use the NEW unified Equipment Contract,RUS FORM 395(PDF).
- Open Letter From Assistant Administrator(PDF) to RUS Telecommunications Program Infrastructure and Farm Bill Broadband Loan Applicants and Borrowers regarding guidelines for the program funding of CPE. CLE, and Premises Wiring.
- Starting in January 2017, all infrastructure and broadband loan applications will need to be submitted to RUS through RD Apply , the RUS online application system. Please review the Open Letter from the Assistant Administrator
- Open Letter From Assistant Administrator(PDF) to Telecommunications Loan Applicants and Borrowers regarding FCC Order on the universal service program for rate-of return carriers.
• Entities that receive awards under this program will use the Reporting and Compliance system to prepare and submit all required post-award reports, as specified in award terms and conditions. Please consult the Rural Development Reporting & Compliance User Guide for comprehensive information on how to use the system.
There are no other architect, engineering or environmental requirements at the national level. If there are additional state-specific requirements they will be listed above.
There are no other additional requirements at the national level. If there are additional state-specific requirements they will be listed above.
There are currently no events scheduled