Quick Reference: FLSP Notice of Funding (NFO) (pdf)
This document is designed to address common questions and provide additional context to support the information provided in the FLSP NFO. In case of any discrepancy between this document and the FLSP NFO, the information provided in the FLSP NFO governs.
Q: Who are the eligible beneficiaries for these funds?
A: Eligibility for this competitive grant program is limited to domestic agricultural employers who: (1) anticipate meeting all Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulatory requirements for the H-2A program, including demonstrated effort to effectively recruit U.S.-based workers and hire all willing, able, and qualified U.S. workers; and (2) commit to, and indicate capacity to fulfill all Baseline Requirements, as well as any selected (elective) worker benefits and protections outlined in Supplemental Benefits sections of the NFO includes fixed-site employers, joint-employers, agricultural associations, and H-2A labor contractors.
Please refer to Section 3.1 (Eligible Applicants) of the NFO.
Q: How do I know if I am eligible to apply?
A: Based on your employer type, applicants can apply for FLSP funding as a Fixed-site Employer; Farm Labor Contractor; or Joint Employer. Please refer to Section 3.3 (Application Types) (pdf) of the NFO for detailed guidance and implications of applying as a certain type of employer.
Q: When is the deadline to apply?
A: The FLSP grant application period closes January 3, 2024. You are encouraged to provide yourself ample time to complete all registrations as well as the required components mentioned in the NFO.
Q: How do I apply to the FLSP Program grant?
A: Please thoroughly review guidance provided via the “How to Apply” webpage for FLSP. Also, as described on the Grants.gov “Registering an Organization” webpage, applying for this grant requires a multi-stage process that includes:
- Registering with the System for Award Management (www.SAM.gov),
- Registering with Grants.gov, and
- Submitting an application and required forms via Grants.gov.
Be aware that:
- The SAM.gov organization registration process can take up to four weeks to complete. Complete your SAM.gov registration early to ensure you have enough time to meet the application submission deadline.
- SAM.gov registration is free. If you are visiting a website insists on charging for SAM.gov registration, please check the web address to ensure you are not visiting an unofficial registration link.
- AMS will only accept electronic applications in response to this NFO, and they must be submitted via Grants.gov. Complete your Grants.gov registration early to ensure you have enough time to meet the application submission deadline. Large files may take longer to load, so avoid waiting until the last minute to submit your application. For an overview of the Grants.gov application process, see Grants.gov’s Apply for Grants webpage.
Q: Can I submit my application by fax, email, postal mail, or hand delivered?
A: No. AMS will NOT accept applications submitted by fax, paper, email, postal mail, or hand delivered. All applications must be submitted electronically through the Grants.gov. Please refer to the corresponding FLSP NFO and AMS Late and/or Nonresponsive Applications policy for more information.
Q: Can I edit the FLSP Project Narrative Form?
A: No. The FLSP Project Narrative Form template cannot be changed (text, tables or pages cannot be deleted nor margins adjusted). Changes might result in the application being removed from consideration, or reviewers will deduct points.
Q: Can AMS staff member review a draft of my application prior to submission?
A: AMS cannot review draft applications before they are submitted through Grants.gov. However, FLSP intends to offer no cost technical assistance for all applicants. More information is available on the FLSP Technical Assistance webpage.
Q: Can an organization submit more than one application for the FLSP Grant Program?
A: AMS will only accept one application per entity.
Questions Added 10/19/2023
Q: Can I recruit from any country, like South Africa, Mexico or otherwise?
A: Applicants may recruit foreign workers from any participating H-2A country. However, the FLSP uniquely takes advantage of the benefits of recruiting from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
One of the goals of the FLSP is to promote the expansion of regular migration pathways, as part of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection. The FLSP offers an opportunity to support this commitment, with economic benefits for foreign workers and their families, and professional and economic development opportunities for communities that send their workers to participate in the H-2A program, including the government-led recruitment and vetting of seasonal workers through the Ministries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras supported by the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Assuming FLSP employers meet all H-2A requirements (including effort to effectively recruit U.S. based workers), they may recruit from any participating H-2A country. However, all applicants should note the benefits of recruiting from NCA countries within the FLSP program:
- More competitive: Applicants that commit to recruiting a higher percentage of their H-2A workforce and any new individual H-2A workers from Northern Central America will be scored more competitively, as outlined in Section 6.1 Project Evaluation Criteria in the NFO (pdf).
- Higher award: if combined with the other required commitments for a Platinum level award, a commitment to hire all new (non-returning) individual H-2A workers from Northern Central America qualifies applicants for the highest level of award, a significant financial benefit.
- NCA Ministry Recruitment is free: employers who utilize the government recruitment and vetting by the Ministries of Labor in Guatemala or Honduras or Ministry of Foreign Affairs in El Salvador incur no cost for recruitment of workers, resulting in potential significant financial savings for employers. NCA Ministry recruitment is free regardless of whether an employer participates in the FLSP program.
- Free NCA technical assistance: In support of the strong work of NCA Ministries and USAID’s on the ground Mission-assistance, all grant awardees will be eligible for free recruitment and consulate support technical assistance for any workers recruited via the government Ministries in North Central America. The TA provider will engage with employers to establish lines of communication, understand their operations and unique service needs to support identifying and matching worker skillsets and availability to the needs of employers. As necessary, the TA provider will help support consulate scheduling, obtaining worker signatures on documentation, and communicating with employers and workers throughout all steps of the process.
Q: What is considered an FTE? How do I know which Award Amount I am eligible for?
A: To calculate “Full-Time Equivalency” (FTE) for the year, sum total annual farmworker (“agricultural workers”) hours worked by all directly hired farmworkers, and then divide by 2080 (which assumes a 40-hour workweek for 52 weeks of the year). On the Narrative Application Form, applicants will need to provide cumulative FTE annual totals of both H-2A and domestic worker for all sub-awardee partners/worksites.
- If you employ 100 H-2A farmworkers and 50 U.S.-based farmworkers throughout the year, you will first add up all H-2A farmworker hours (all 100 workers) for the year and divide that totally number by 2080. Then, will you add up all the total hours for the 50 U.S.-based workers, and divide that sum total by 2080. There is a box on the Narrative Application Form (Question 5) where you will enter total annual FTEs totals H-2A and for U.S.-based workers.
- If you apply as Joint Employer and your operation employs 5 U.S.-based farmworkers and the secondary employer employs 10 U.S.-based farmworkers, and collectively you hire 100 H-2A farmworkers, you will first add up all hours worked by both operations’ U.S.-based workers (total annual hours from all 15 U.S.-based workers) and divide that totally number by 2080; then, add up all the hours worked throughout the season by the 100 H-2A workers jointly hired and divide that totally number by 2080.
In your FTE totals for agricultural workers you cannot include administrative, management, supervisory, or other non-farmworker employee hours. Please see Section 9 Definitions of the NFO for the definition of agricultural employees.
Q: Who is or can be considered an “external partner?”
A: USDA encourages partnerships with community-based organizations, faith-based institutions, advocacy organizations, higher education institutions, and other institutions that have expertise in occupational health and safety in agriculture, environmental justice, pesticide safety, and other worker-focused benefits. USDA encourages partnerships with community-based organizations and other institutions that have longstanding experience working directly and collaboratively with farmworkers.
As stated in the FLSP Narrative Form (pdf) for the Innovative External Partnership supplemental commitment option (Question 14), USDA encourages partnerships with an external entity that has demonstrated capacity to collaborate with farmworkers and employers, and encourages approaches to improve working conditions, especially by engaging farmworkers in the process.
According to see Section 6.1 Project Evaluation Criteria in the NFO, partner organizations with experience of direct collaboration, service, or engagement with farmworkers, and strong potential to contribute to positive working conditions and worker well-being outcomes will merit higher scores in the grant application evaluation. The letters of commitments from external partners should communicate the organization’s capacity and commitment to the project proposal, the organization’s mission, their experience engaging farmworkers, and note any special contributions, such as: worker-driven approaches, recruitment, retaliation protections, worker education, auditing/monitoring and enforcement, wage benefits, health and safety, etc. Any innovative partnership commitments should thoroughly address all partnership-related questions in the application form.
Since innovative partnership proposals will be scored competitively, USDA encourages applicants to consider whether their selected partner(s) and the nature of their partnership fully address the criteria indicated in the NFO and FLSP application materials.
Q: What should I do if I get a “Please wait…” message when clicking the link for the Narrative Application Form?
A: The file unfortunately will not open in your browser. You will need to manually download and save the file depending on your Internet browser.
- First, make sure you have Adobe Reader downloaded and installed on your computer.
- Once Adobe is installed, now download the Narrative Form to your computer. You might check for the download button in the upper right-hand corner of your browser or right-click and save (depending on your browser and operating system). Save it to your preferred location.
- Finally, proceed to open the file directly from the location you saved the file using Adobe Reader.
Q: What does AOR stand for?
A: AOR is the Authorized Organization Representative, which is the person who has the authority to sign and submit grant applications on behalf of the company, organization, institution, or government. AOR's are authorized by their EBiz POC (E-Business Point of Contact) so they can submit applications on behalf of their organization.
Q: How do you become or register to be an AOR?
A: You would first register as an applicant on Grants.gov. Once you have a UEI and your organization has an active SAM account, your EBiz POC will receive an email notifying them that you have registered and need to be authorized.
Q: What is EIN?
A: The EIN is the Employer Identification Number. This number is assigned by the IRS.
Q: How do I know if my application was submitted on time?
A: After you submit your application to Grants.gov, you (the AOR) will receive an automatic notification of receipt from the system that contains a Grants.gov tracking number and official date/time stamp of application submission. This notification ONLY indicates receipt by Grants.gov and does not indicate receipt by AMS. Grants.gov may also send you an error message if your application was not submitted correctly. If application submission passes Grants.gov validation, AOR will receive a second electronic acknowledgment of receipt. Once USDA-AMS has retrieved application from Grants.gov, AOR will receive a third email notification. Lastly, if AMS assigns its own agency tracking number/notes a fourth email is sent to AOR.
Q: How are attachments uploaded in Grants.gov?
A: The FLSP project narrative template must be attached to the “Project Narrative Attachment Form” on the application package. All other attachments must be attached to the Grants.gov application package using the “Add Attachments” button under Form SF-424 item #15. When uploading attachments, click the “Add Attachments” button (do NOT use the “paperclip” icon in Adobe Reader). If you use the “paperclip” icon in Adobe Reader the attachments will not be received with the application package.
Q: Can we apply before having the Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) and SAM.gov registration?
A: No, you must first have your UEI number to register in SAM.gov. In order to apply as an organization, you must have an active SAM account.
Q: Do I have to register before I can see the requirements of the grant application?
A: No, you do not have to register in Grants.gov to view the opportunity and download it. Also, you can access the Notice of Funding Opportunity, and the required documents on the program website, under the “How to Apply” tab. However, you must be registered in Grants.gov to apply.
Q: Is the EBiz POC someone in my organization or a federal employee?
A: The EBiz POC is a member of your organization and is often the person that oversees the business operations. The EBiz POC is the one that registers the organization in SAM. EBiz POC is responsible affiliating and assigning roles to all applicants registered in Grants.gov on behalf of the organization.
Q: Can the EBiz POC and AOR be the same person?
A: Yes. In that case, you’d need two accounts/log-ins. One to serve in each capacity.
Q: Can an organization have multiple EBiz POC’s?
A: No, you can only have one EBiz POC but may have multiple AOR’s.
Q: How do I contact Grants.gov if there is an issue with my registration?
A: You may contact the Customer Contact center by either e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 1-800- 518-4726. You can also use the Self Help link https://grants-portal.psc.gov to find answers to common questions.
Q: If we already have a UEI, can we go straight to SAM.gov?
A: Yes. SAM registration can take up to 2 weeks, and often longer, to complete so register early. Check the SAM.gov website for additional login procedures.
Q: If I have already had a SAM.gov account, do I have to do anything else?
A: Yes, you must be sure that your SAM.gov account is up to date. If the account expired, you must renew your account before applying.
Q: Do I have to pay to activate a SAM.gov account?
A: No, registering and renewing a SAM.gov account is completely free. If you received notification on having to pay to renew your account beware that it is likely a SCAM and should be reported to the appropriated authorities.
Q: Do I need to have an active SAM.gov registration to receive payments?
A: Yes. You must have an active SAM registration for the agency to process your claims/payments. If the UEI is showing inactive in the Payment Management System (PMS), the payment will not be processed. It is the responsibility of the organization to contact SAM.gov to renew the registration annually.
Q: How can I spend the grant funds?
A: For allowable and unallowable use of funds, please refer to Section 6.0 (Allowable Cost and Activities) of the Terms and Conditions.
Q: Can I revise my grant agreement?
A: Yes. An awardee may need to make modifications, such as budget, personnel, or contracts, to accomplish the objectives during the period of performance. Please refer to Section 7.0 (Changes Requiring Prior Written Approval) of the Terms and Conditions.
Q: Am I required to submit performance and financial reports for this grant?
A: Yes. AMS requires submission of interim and final reports to demonstrate the progress made toward the completion of the Awardee’s FLSP commitments and outcomes, as well as the grant agreement’s overall financial status. Performance reports must be formatted and submitted using the approved templates or guidance, and machine-readable. Please refer to Section 8.0 (Performance and Financial Reports) of the Terms and Conditions.
Questions Added 10/19/2023
Q: Can the FLSP grant be used to search for any type of worker where we are unable to fill jobs? (e.g. domestic workers, production, etc).
A: No, the grant cannot be used for any type of employee. The purpose of this program is to improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency by addressing the challenges agricultural employers face with labor shortages and instability. The program is open to all agricultural employers, who hire agricultural employees - also known as farmworkers or farm labor workers. Please see Section 9 Definitions of the NFO (pdf) for specific definitions for both terms.
Q: Can I use this funding for construction?
A: While using grants funds for construction is not wholly prohibited, many projects would trigger a National Environmental Policy Act review and would require reporting on the property over time beyond the life of the grant; therefore, USDA strongly recommends that applicants therefore avoid construction expenses. Instead, USDA recommends that use their awards to cover cost for the many expenses that easily qualify as allowable expenses, which more than exceed the amount of any grant award.
In this sense, USDA recommends that applicants keep it simple for their FLSP expense, focusing on the costs of hiring seasonal workers, including wages, as well as any related H-2A processing, travel and visas costs if applicable. If an applicant is determined to use funds for simple construction, please follow the following guidelines:
Purchase of property, equipment, and supplies (2 CFR § 200.310-316) is unallowable. Specifically note the $5,000 threshold for equipment and supplies:
- Equipment means tangible personal property (including information technology systems) having a useful life of more than one year and a per-unit acquisition cost which equals or exceeds the lesser of the capitalization level established by the non-Federal entity for financial statement purposes, or $5,000.
- Supplies means all tangible personal property other than those described in the definition of equipment. A computing device is a supply if the acquisition cost is less than the lesser of the capitalization level established by the non-Federal entity for financial statement purposes or $5,000, regardless of the length of its useful life.
However, housing maintenance plan costs may be allowable:
- Rental costs of land and building space. However, lease agreements to own (i.e., lease-to-own or rent-to-own) are not allowable. The lease or rental agreement must terminate at the end of the grant FLSP period of performance.
- Rearrangement and reconversion costs, including those incurred in restoring or rehabilitating the awardee’s facilities to approximately the same condition existing before the start of the grant agreement, less costs related to normal wear and tear (2 CFR § 200.462). Any alterations to housing, or reconversion must ensure compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) - 7 CFR § 1(b).
We encourage applicants to review tables 2 and 3 on pages 8-11 of the Notice of Funding Opportunity (pdf) for all the allowable costs and activities that the grant funding can support.