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Sun Grant Program

Number: 10.320
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Office: National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Program Information 

Program Number/Title (010):
10.320 Sun Grant Program
Federal Agency (030):
National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Department of Agriculture
Authorization (040):
The Sun Grant Program, was originally established in section 778 of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-199), which amended the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (7 U.S.C. 8101 et seq.) adding section 9011, entitled the “Sun Grant Research Initiative Act of 2003”. Section 7526 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 8114) establishes the Sun Grant Program, replacing the “Sun Grant Research Initiative Act of 2003”. Authority for the Sun Grant Program is delegated to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in title 7 Part 2.66 subpart (a) section (153) of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Objectives (050):
This program responds to the need to enhance national energy security with biobased energy technology; promote diversification and environmental sustainability through biobased technology; promote economic diversification in the rural U.S. through biobased technology; and enhance the efficiency of biobased technology research and development (R&D) through collaborations among USDA; Department of Energy (DOE); and Land Grant Institutions.

Grants will be awarded to the sun grant centers and subcenter for the purposes of carrying out a competitive grants program and to conduct multi-institutional and multistate research, extension, and education programs on technology development; and integrated research, extension, and education programs on technology implementation.
Types of Assistance (060):
Project Grants (Cooperative Agreements)
Uses and Use Restrictions (070):
The Sun Grant Program was established to:

(1) Enhance national energy security with biobased energy tech;
(2) Promote diversification and environmental sustainability through biobased tech;
(3) Promote economic diversification in the rural US through biobased technology; and
(4) Enhance the efficiency of biobased technology R&D through collaborations among the United States Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and Land Grant Institutions.


A Sun Grant Center or Subcenter shall use 75 percent of the funds to provide competitive grants to entities that are—
(i) eligible to receive grants under subsection (b)(7) of the Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Grant Act (7 U.S.C. 450i(b)(7)); and
(ii) located in the region covered by the Sun Grant Center or Subcenter. Grant funds must be used for allowable costs necessary to conduct approved research and extension objectives. Funds shall not be used for the construction of a new building or facility or the acquisition, expansion, remodeling, or alteration of an existing building or facility (including site grading and improvement, and architect fees). Funds may not be used for any purposes other than those approved in the grant award documents.

See FY '10 Request for Application (RFA) for specific details regarding indirect costs and matching requirements. Fully discretionary.
Eligibility Requirements (080)
Applicant Eligibility (081):
Only the Sun Grant Centers and Subcenter as specifically designated in 7 U.S.C. 8114 are eligible to apply for funding under this program.
Beneficiary Eligibility (082):
Only the Sun Grant Centers and Subcenter as specifically designated in 7 U.S.C. 8114 are eligible to apply for funding under this program.
Credentials/Documentation (083):
No Credentials or documentation are required. OMB Circular No. A-87 applies to this program.
Application and Award Process (090)
Preapplication Coordination (091):
Preapplication coordination is not applicable. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.
Application Procedures (092):
OMB Circular No. A-102 applies to this program. OMB Circular No. A-110 applies to this program. Preapplication coordination is not applicable.
Award Procedure (093):
All RFAs are published on the Agency’s website and Grants.gov. Applicants must complete the Grants.gov registration process. Please see the following Grants.gov link for more information: http://www.grants.gov/applicants/get_registered.jsp. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372. Applications should be submitted as outlined in the RFA. Applications must follow the instructions provided per Grants.Gov and in the Agency guide to submitting applications via Grants.gov. Proposals submitted by Sun Grant Centers or the Subcenter are reviewed by a panel of qualified NIFA scientists and appropriate persons in accordance with the provisions of 7 U.S.C. 8114. Proposals are funded to the extent permitted by available funds on the basis of merit and compliance with provisions found in applicable legislation and regulations. Competitive grant applications awarded by the Sun Grant Centers or the Subcenter are subjected to a system of peer and merit review in accordance with section 103 of the Agricultural Research, Extension and Education Reform Act of 1998 (7 U.S.C. 1613) by a panel of qualified scientists and other appropriate persons who are specialists in the field covered by the proposal. Within the limit of funds available for such purpose, the NIFA Authorized Departmental Officer (ADO) shall make grants to those responsible, eligible applicants whose applications are judged most meritorious under the procedures set forth in the RFA. Reviewers will be selected based upon training and experience in relevant scientific, extension, or education fields, taking into account the following factors: (a) The level of relevant formal scientific, technical education, or extension experience of the individual, as well as the extent to which an individual is engaged in relevant research, education, or extension activities; (b) the need to include as reviewers experts from various areas of specialization within relevant scientific, education, or extension fields; c) the need to include as reviewers other experts (e.g., producers, range or forest managers/operators, and consumers) who can assess relevance of the applications to targeted audiences and to program needs; (d) the need to include as reviewers experts from a variety of organizational types (e.g., colleges, universities, industry, state and Federal agencies, private profit and non-profit organizations) and geographic locations; (e) the need to maintain a balanced composition of reviewers with regard to minority and female representation and an equitable age distribution; and (f) the need to include reviewers who can judge the effective usefulness to producers and the general public of each application. Evaluation Criteria will be delineated in the solicitation available from the Sun Grant Centers or the Subcenter.
Deadlines (094):
Not Applicable.
Range of Approval/Disapproval Time (095):
From 30 to 180 days.
Appeals (096):
Not Applicable.
Renewals (097):
Specific details are provided in the Request for Applications (RFA) each fiscal year.
Assistance Consideration (100)
Formula and Matching Requirements (101):
This program has no statutory formula.
Matching Requirements: Percent: 20.%. Funds allocated for competitive grants must be matched in an amount of 20 percent from non-Federal sources by all subawardees. Matching requirements do not apply to fundamental research. Additionally, the Sun Grant Center or Subcenter may reduce or eliminate the requirement for non-Federal funds for applied research if the Sun Grant Center or Subcenter determines that the reduction is necessary and appropriate pursuant to specific guidance issued by NIFA. Specific matching provisions are announced in the request for applications or guidelines for each fiscal year.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance (102):
The term of project grants and/or cooperative agreements under this program may not exceed 5 years. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: by letter of credit.
Post Assistance Requirements (110)
Reports (111):
Grantees are to submit initial project information and annual summary reports to NIFA’s electronic, Web-based inventory system that facilitates both grantee submissions of project outcomes and public access to information on Federally-funded projects. The details of the reporting requirements are included in the award terms and conditions.

Pursuant to 7 U.S.C .8114, not later than 90 days after the end of each fiscal year, a Sun Grant Center or Subcenter receiving a grant shall submit to NIFA a report that describes the policies, priorities, and operations of the program carried out by the center or Subcenter during the fiscal year, including—
(1) the results of all peer and merit review procedures conducted in association with the 75 percent of funds designated for competitive grants in 7 U.S.C. 8114; and
(2) a description of progress made in facilitating the priorities planned for addressing the bioenergy, biomass, and gasification research priorities of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy at the State and regional levels. The plan must be jointly developed in cooperation with land-grant colleges and universities and private industry. NIFA uses the SF-425, Federal financial Report to monitor cash. These are required on a quarterly basis and due within 30 days after the close of each quarter. Grantees are to submit initial project information and annual summary reports to NIFA’s electronic, Web-based inventory system that facilitates both grantee submissions of project outcomes and public access to information on Federally-funded projects. The details of the reporting requirements are included in the award terms and conditions. Pursuant to 7 U.S.C. 8114, not later than 90 days after the end of each fiscal year, a Sun Grant Center or Subcenter receiving a grant shall submit to NIFA a report that describes the policies, priorities, and operations of the program carried out by the center or Subcenter during the fiscal year, including—(1) the results of all peer and merit review procedures conducted in association with the 75% of funds designated for competitive grants in 7 USC 8114; and (2) a description of progress made in facilitating the priorities planned for addressing the bioenergy, biomass, and gasification research priorities of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy at the State and regional levels. The plan must be jointly developed in cooperation with land-grant colleges and universities and private industry. A final “Federal Financial Report” (SF-425) is due within 90 days of the expiration date of the grant and should be submitted to the address listed below, in accordance with instructions contained in 2 CFR 3430.55 (also refer to Section 3015.82 of the Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations).

Awards Management Division (AMD)
Office of Grants and Financial Management (OGFM)
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
Department of Agriculture (USDA)
STOP 2271
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-2271
Telephone: (202) 401-4986. Grantees are to submit initial project information and annual summary reports to NIFA’s electronic, Web-based inventory system that facilitates both grantee submissions of project outcomes and public access to information on Federally-funded projects. The details of the reporting requirements are included in the award terms and conditions.

Pursuant to 7 U.S.C. 8114, not later than 90 days after the end of each fiscal year, a Sun Grant Center or Subcenter receiving a grant shall submit to NIFA a report that describes the policies, priorities, and operations of the program carried out by the center or Subcenter during the fiscal year, including—
(1) the results of all peer and merit review procedures conducted in association with the 75 percent of funds designated for competitive grants in 7 U.S.C. 8114; and
(2) a description of progress made in facilitating the priorities planned for addressing the bioenergy, biomass, and gasification research priorities of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy at the State and regional levels. The plan must be jointly developed in cooperation with land-grant colleges and universities and private industry.
Audits (112):
In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133. This program is also subject to audit by the cognizant Federal audit agency and the USDA Office of Inspector General.

Records (113):
In accordance with the Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and other Non-profit Organizations [2 CFR 215, Subpart C, Section 215.53, (OMB Circular A-110)] grantees shall maintain separate records for each grant to ensure that funds are used for authorized purposes. Grant-related records are subject to inspection during the life of the grant and must be retained at least 3 years. Records must be retained beyond the 3-year period if litigation is pending or audit findings have not been resolved.
Financial Information (120)
Obligations (122):
(Project Grants (Cooperative Agreements)) FY 12 $2,112,000; FY 13 est $2,159,744; and FY 14 est $0 - The difference between the appropriation and obligation numbers reflects legislative authorized set-asides deducted as appropriate, and in some cases the availability of obligational authority from prior years.

FY 2013 estimated amounts include dollar reductions calculated pursuant to the budget sequestration order issued March 1, 2013.
Range and Average of Financial Assistance (123):
Of available funds there will be equal distribution among each of the Sun Grant Centers in compliance with 7 U.S.C. 8114 and with the Terms and Conditions of the award with a portion of the funds allocated to the western Sun Grant Center to be made available to the western insular Pacific sun grant Subcenter in an amount as determined appropriate by NIFA. For competitive grants made by the Sun Grant Centers or the Subcenter, if minimum or maximum amounts of funding per competitive project grant or cooperative agreement are established, these will be announced in the annual program announcement or Request for Application (RFA).
Program Accomplishments (130):
Fiscal Year 2013: No Current Data Available Fiscal Year 2014: The FY 2014 program is contingent upon the re-authorization of the Farm Bill. Fiscal Year 2015: No Current Data Available
Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature (140):
7 CFR Part 3430, Competitive and Noncompetitive Non-formula Federal Assistance Programs – General Award Administrative Provisions and Program-Specific Administrative Provisions; 7 CFR Part 3015, USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations; 7 CFR Part 3017, Government wide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) ; 7 CFR Part 3018, New Restrictions on Lobbying; 7 CFR Part 3019, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-profit Organizations; 7 CFR Part 3021— USDA implementation of Governmentwide Requirements for Drug-free Workplace (Financial Assistance) and 7 CFR 3052 - Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations.

Information Contacts (150)
Regional or Local Office (151) :
None.
Headquarters Office (152):
USDA. NIFA, National Program Leader; Institute of Bioenergy, Climate, and Environment, Division of Bioenergy, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., STOP 2210, Washington, District of Columbia 20250-2210 Phone: (202) 401-5244 Fax: (202) 401-2653
Website Address (153):
http://www.nifa.usda.gov/
Examples of Funded Projects (170):
Fiscal Year 2013: No Current Data Available Fiscal Year 2014: Funding is subject to authorization in the next Farm Bill. Pertinent data to be provided by Program at a future date. Fiscal Year 2015: No Current Data Available
Criteria for Selecting Proposals (180):
Within guidelines established for the program as described in the request for applications in accordance with 7 U.S.C. 8114 and applicable Terms and Conditions of the award.