MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES
RFR No. AGR-AIP11-2 Due Date: June 30, 2010 This Request for Response (RFR) contains three sections; Section I - Program Description, Section II - Application, Section III - Financial Statement. Those responding (Responders) must complete Sections II and III and return to the Department of Agricultural Resources by 4:00 P.M. on June 30, 2010 in order to be considered for participation in the program.
SECTION I – PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (“Department”) invites responses from Massachusetts’ farmers with APR land who wish to participate in the APR Improvement Program. Farmers must be willing, in Phase I, to commit sufficient time to properly participate in the business planning process, and if they advance to Phase II, farmers must be willing to agree to implement agreed upon components of a business plan, and to enter a Service Contract. All awards pursuant to this Program are contingent upon legislative authorization and administrative appropriation.
The purpose of the APR Improvement Program (“Program”) is to help sustain active commercial farming on land protected by the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program. The Program will provide technical assistance and business planning to improve farm productivity and to enhance the significance of farm operations and their contribution to the state’s agricultural industry. The Program will assist with issues that may enhance the long-term continued use of the agricultural resource, which may include but are not limited to: economic viability, environmental sustainability, resource conservation, ownership/control, succession planning, and infrastructure improvement. A Business Plan (“Plan”) will be developed by a team comprised of farmers and other agricultural, economic and environmental consultants engaged by the Department.
Farmers who develop Plans with the Department in Phase I are eligible to participate in Phase II of the Program upon a declaration of interest by the farmer and upon a favorable decision of the Department. Phase II of the Program requires the execution of a Service Contract between the Department and the farmer. The contract provides the farmer with funding to implement specified portions of the Plan. Participation in Phase II is based, in part, on the financial needs of the Participant and/or the Plan’s ability to improve the economic viability and environmental integrity of the agricultural operation. The Plan must identify strategies that will achieve at least one of the following objectives for a participating farmer to be eligible for implementation funding: improve the economic viability of the farm; retain or create private sector jobs and tax revenue either directly or indirectly associated with a farm business; improve farm productivity and competitiveness; expand farm facilities as part of a business plan; support renewable energy or environmental remediation projects on farms; or expand and support markets and infrastructure to strengthen the farming industry.
The earliest possible payment under Phase of Program is February 2011 but most payments to qualifying farms will be submitted in May or June 2011. The schedule is as follows: Review of responses to this RFR July 1 through September 30, 2010. Pending the availability of funds, notification of acceptance into Phase I is expected by October 22, 2010. Orientation for farmers that are accepted into the Program will be in early November 2010. The Plans will be developed between December 1, 2010 and April 30, 2012 (Phase I). Executing contract documents in preparation of payment in Phase II then takes approximately four to six weeks from the time the Plan is accepted. Depending on the availability of funds, Department approval of Contracts and release of funds is expected to take place between February, 2011 and June, 2011. Costs incurred prior to contract execution in Phase II cannot be reimbursed and will not qualify as Program expenditures. Should additional funds become available, the Department may select other Responders, not initially chosen for participation, to participate in the Program at any time during Fiscal Year 2011.
(2) Contract and Performance Specifications:
To be eligible for participation in the Program, a Responder must own, or be a Co-Responder with the owner, land enrolled in the Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program, which must be in active agricultural use and have been managed as a commercial agricultural enterprise by the Responder for at least the three previous years. Responders must have an NRCS Farm Conservation Plan dated no earlier than 2004, or be actively involved in a planning process with the County Conservation District and prior to responding to this RFR have signed a Co-operator’s Agreement with the District showing intent to complete an up-to-date Conservation Plan by April 1, 2011. Responders do not have to submit a copy of their Farm Conservation Plan or their Co-operator’s Agreement with their application but will be asked to present this information to representatives of the Department at the beginning of Phase I. Current owners who are the original owners of the APR are eligible if their APR was closed or recorded on or before December 31, 1999. Successors in title to the original APR owner are also eligible if successors have owned the APR since December 31, 2004 or before. Non-profit organizations are ineligible for this Program. Prior recipients of AIP funding are ineligible to reapply to the AIP Program.
B. Criteria for Selection
Applications will be evaluated and selected based on the following criteria.
They are listed in order of importance.
(1) Have the highest potential for increased profitability and sustainability as a result of the Commonwealth’s new investment
(2) Clearly defined barriers to ongoing viable farm operations and detailed opportunities for resource enhancement, diversification, expansion of production, or marketing improvement that will contribute to continued success of the farm enterprises
(3) Need assistance with generational farm transfer issues that would be facilitated by the Commonwealth’s investment
(4) Have a significant but reversible risk due to low income, debt, family ownership/control or management problems, or other threats to the continuance of farm operations
(5) Demonstrated directly relevant agricultural experience and training of Responders
(6) Activities proposed in the application meet the purposes of the Program
C. Funding For Plan Implementation – Phase II
In order to receive funding, the successful responder must participate in a technical assistance (TA) and business planning process (Phase I) that identifies farm improvement strategies that will be implemented with program funds. TA and planning efforts will conclude with the completion of one of the following Plan options:
A business plan
An enterprise analysis
Option 1 or Option 2 above, and a farm transfer/succession plan
Following completion of Phase I the farm operator may be offered funding to implement those strategies developed in a Plan that achieve at least one of the following requirements mandated by the legislation for this program:
1) improve the economic viability of the farm;
2) retain or create private sector jobs and tax revenue either directly or indirectly associated with a farm business;
3) improve farm productivity and competitiveness;
4) expand farm facilities as part of a modernization or business plan;
5) support renewable energy or environmental remediation projects on farms; or
6) expand and support markets and infrastructure to strengthen the farming industry.
Funding from the Program is optional and awards may be rescinded at anytime during the technical assistance and business plan development phase. Both the farmer and the Department must agree upon which selected elements from the Plan will be implemented prior to proceeding on to Phase II.
Funds will be used primarily for identified capital improvements that will support or enhance the APR farm property. Examples include investment in new or improved farm buildings such as farmstands, livestock housing, processing facilities, or storage barns. Other examples of uses include soil resource improvement or restoration, fencing, underground irrigation, or renewable energy projects. Up to 10% of the grant award may be available for non-capital uses, for marketing, production or legal needs.
The level of funding shall vary depending on the number of acres in an eligible applicant’s farm that are currently enrolled in the APR Program, the significance and productivity of the farm as determined by the operation’s gross farm income over the past two years (Schedule F, line 11, 1120S line 6, or other relevant statements) and the projected farm income following the completed strategy implementation. Depending on the availability of funding, the Department may offer the Participants one of four funding options, which are determined as follows:
(1) Owners with an APR of any size and up to $50,000 gross farm income may receive up to $25,000
(2) Owners with over 25 acres under APR and minimum $50,000 gross farm income may receive up to $50,000
(3) Owners with at least 50 acres under APR and minimum $100,000 gross farm income may receive up to $75,000
(4) Owners with over 100 acres of APR land and over $150,000 gross farm income may receive up to $100,000, if funding is available. In addition, Participant farms must meet the following objectives and criteria in order to qualify for $100,000:
a) Agricultural Significance – Does the Plan forecast an annual gross income from farm operations in excess of $150,000 for the next three years?
b) Sharing Risk – Does the Plan of the Participant farm show the farm operator’s investment in additional capital to the total implementation cost, which is at least one half the amount of the award amount (at least $50,000)?
c) Impact on Industry – Does the Plan of the Participant farm create an opportunity, or help solve a problem, that will have an impact on other farm operations? Is this impact significant to the States’ agricultural industry?
d) Farmer Commitment – Does the Plan of the Participant farm address the long-term viability of the farm including succession issues for long-term management and ownership? The Plan of the Participant farm must show an intensity of use on the farm that is substantial enough so that it
encourages ongoing use of the resource.
e) Success Stories –Following implementation of Farm Viability Plan strategies, operators of participating farms must be willing to share their experiences, which may benefit other farm operators, with the Department at sponsored farmer meetings, tours, or press events. Participants must be willing to release financial data to the Department that demonstrates the success of their farm business. The Department will strive to keep all such financial data confidential.
Responders will be informed which option the Department intends to offer when notified of acceptance into Phase I. However, a final determination will be made at the completion of Phase I. Determination of which option is offered to a Responder rests solely with the Department.
D. Reporting and Documentation (Phase III)
(1) Program Participants must provide the Department with all the records and receipts of the expenditures made with the funds received at a date specified in the service contract.
(2) In order to evaluate the impact of the Program and upon request from the Department, Participants must submit information and financial data pertaining to their farming operation to the Department for a period of up to five years following the termination date specified on the contract. All such financial data shall be considered confidential.
(3) Instructions for Submission of Responses
Anyone interested in submitting a response to this Request for Response must submit the completed Section II - Application and a completed Section III - Financial Statement. In addition to Section II and Section III, a Responder must submit (1) a USGS topographic map and (2) an aerial photo, with the farm property bounds outlined on each. Topographic maps and aerial photos are available online, or can be prepared by your USDA-NRCS field office as a free service to farmers. To receive this service from NRCS, Responders need to provide them with an outline of your farm’s boundaries. Responders should contact NRCS as soon as possible as it may take several weeks before you receive these materials. If you already have an up-to-date NRCS Farm Conservation Plan (completed in 2004 or later), you can submit copies of maps and aerial photos from this plan.
A. Application Evaluation
A staff review team (“Review Team”) will consider all complete responses and rank them according to the stated criteria. The Review Team will be comprised of Agricultural Resources staff and Program consultants. Their ranking and recommendations will be conveyed to an Advisory Committee of 10 to 15 members, appointed by the Department of Agricultural Resources, that are representative of a cross-section of the business and agricultural sectors, including employees of the Department. The Advisory Committee will consider the rankings and then convey recommendations to the Commissioner of Agricultural Resources for final decisions. The Department will make notifications of acceptance and rejection to applicants in writing. A Responder can withdraw a response at any point. The Department reserves the right to consider geographic distribution of awards and/or agricultural diversity as additional criterion. All acceptances will be conditional upon the availability of funding.
B. Deadline for Responses
Responses (Section II and Section III) with all requested supporting documents (USGS topographical map with your property location outlined as indicated in Section II 5.a., aerial photograph with your farm property outlined, and any narrative attachments) must be received no later than 4:00 P.M on June 30, 2010 at the following address:
Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
101 University Drive Suite C4
Amherst, MA 01002.
Electronic copies and Facsimiles will not be accepted. (4) RFR Attachments:
The following forms will need to be completed as part of the process for applicants selected in to the Program, but do not need to be completed or submitted as part of the response to this RFR.
A. At the beginning of Phase I, assistance will be provided to Participants to complete the following two forms:
1. Commonwealth Terms and Conditions. If the Bidder already has executed and filed the Commonwealth Terms and Conditions, please indicate this in your Response. The Commonwealth Terms and Conditions shall be incorporated by reference into any Contract for Commodities and Services executed pursuant to this RFR. A Bidder is required to execute the Commonwealth Terms and Conditions only once.
2. Verification of Taxation Reporting Information (W-9) Form.
At the beginning of Phase II, a Participant must be willing to execute a Contract and must complete the following:
3. Commonwealth Standard Contract.
4. Electronic Funds Transfer Form (EFT) (Optional)
5. Contractor Authorized Signatory Listing
6. Affirmative Market Program Plan form
7. Executive Order 481 – Contractor Certification
8. Scope of Services and Budget
9. Consultant Contractor Mandatory Submission Form
Once a Responder has been selected to be a Participant in the Program, The Department will provide a copy of these Attachments to the Participant for completion and execution in the contract approval process.
(5) Notice to Responders:
Responders shall not alter the RFR language or any RFR component files. Responders must respond in accordance to the RFR directions and complete only those sections that prompt the Responder for Response. Modifications to the body of this RFR, specifications, terms, and conditions, or which change the intent of this RFR are prohibited. Any unauthorized modifications will disqualify a Response.
(6) Contract Type: Maximum Obligation
(7) Acquisition Methods: Purchase\Fee for Service
(8) Number of Vendors Required (Single or Multiple): Multiple
(9) Single or Multiple Department Users: Single. Only Agricultural Resources may contract under AGR-AIP11-2.
(10) Anticipated Contract Duration: Through December 31, 2012, with 1 (one) 1 year option to renew.
(11) Anticipated Expenditures, Funding or Compensation: Maximum of $100,000 per
This RFR is an open enrollment solicitation, which means the Department of Agricultural
Resources reserves the right to re-open this solicitation and add new contractors at any time during the
life of this contract (which includes any options to renew). Open enrollment solicitation will have a
defined open period during which a bidder may submit a response.
This solicitation may be re-open for the following reasons;
1. For special projects that are compelling and that happen “out of cycle” for the program. Special
projects may be very large tracks of land, individual emergencies or disasters, or special opportunities
for agricultural development to an industry or region. Out of cycle projects will be subject to the same
review of staff, will be required to meet all thresholds of the APR Improvement Program, and
will be subject to the same approval of the Commissioner.
A Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Woman Business Enterprise (WBE), M/Non-Profit, or W/Non-Profit, is defined
as such by the State Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance (SOMWBA). All certified businesses that are
included in the bidder’s AMP proposal are required to submit an up to date copy of their SOMWBA certification letter.
The purpose for this certification is to participate in the Commonwealth’s Affirmative Market Program for public
contracting. Minority- and Women-Owned firms that are not currently certified but would like to be considered as an
M/WBE for the purpose of this RFR should submit their application at least two weeks prior to the RFR closing date and
submit proof of documentation of application for consideration with their bid proposal. For further information on
SOMWBA certification, contact their office at 1-617-973-8692 or via the Internet at mass.gov/somwba.
Affirmative Market Program Subcontracting Policies. Prior approval of the agency is required for any subcontracted
service of the contract. Agencies may define required deliverables including, but not limited to, documentation necessary
to verify subcontractor commitments and expenditures with Minority- or Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs)
for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing compliance of subcontracting commitments made in a bidder’s Affirmative
Market Program (AMP) Plan. Contractors are responsible for the satisfactory performance and adequate oversight of its
Agricultural Products Preference (only applicable if this is a procurement for Agricultural Products) - Chapter 123 of the
Acts of 2006 directs the State Purchasing Agent to grant a preference to products of agriculture grown or produced using
locally grown products. Such locally grown or produced products shall be purchased unless the price of the goods
exceeds the price of products of agriculture from outside the Commonwealth by more than 10%. For purposes of this
preference, products of agriculture are defined to include any agricultural, aquacultural, floricultural or horticultural
commodities, the growing and harvesting of forest products, the raising of livestock, including horses, raising of
domesticated animals, bees, fur-bearing animals and any forestry or lumbering operations.
Best Value Selection and Negotiation. The Procurement Management Team (PMT) may select the response(s) which
demonstrates the best value overall, including proposed alternatives that will achieve the procurement goals of the
department. The PMT and a selected bidder, or a contractor, may negotiate a change in any element of contract
performance or cost identified in the original RFR or the selected bidder’s or contractor’s response which results in lower
costs or a more cost effective or better value than was presented in the selected bidder’s or contractor’s original response.
Bidder Communication. Bidders are prohibited from communicating directly with any employee of the procuring
department or any member of the PMT regarding this RFR except as specified in this RFR, and no other individual
Commonwealth employee or representative is authorized to provide any information or respond to any question or inquiry
concerning this RFR. Bidders may contact the contact person for this RFR in the event this RFR is incomplete or the
bidder is having trouble obtaining any required attachments electronically through Comm-PASS.
Comm-PASS. Comm-PASS is the official system of record for all procurement information which is publicly accessible
at no charge at www.comm-pass.com. Information contained in this document and in each tab of the Solicitation,
including file attachments, and information contained in the related Bidders’ Forum(s), are all components of the
Bidders are solely responsible for obtaining all information distributed for this Solicitation via Comm-PASS, by using the
free Browse and Search tools offered on each record-related tab on the main navigation bar (Solicitations and Forums).
Forums support Bidder submission of written questions associated with a Solicitation and publication of official answers.
Summary, Rules, Issuer(s), Intent or Forms & Terms and Specifications, and Other Information tabs. Each tab contains
data and/or file attachments provided by the Procurement Management Team. All are incorporated into the Solicitation.
It is each Bidder’s responsibility to check Comm-PASS for:
• Any addenda or modifications to this Solicitation, by monitoring the “Last Change” field on the Solicitation’s
Summary tab, and
• Any Bidders’ Forum records related to this Solicitation (see Locating a Online Bidders’ Forum for information
on locating these records.
The Commonwealth accepts no responsibility and will provide no accommodation to Bidders who submit a Response
based on an out-of-date Solicitation or on information received from a source other than Comm-PASS.
Comm-PASS SmartBid Subscription. Bidders may elect to obtain an optional SmartBid subscription which provides
value-added features, including automated email notification associated with postings and modifications to Comm-PASS
records. When properly configured and managed, SmartBid provides a subscriber with:
• A secure desktop within Comm-PASS for efficient record management
• A customizable profile reflecting the subscriber’s product/service areas of interest
• A customizable listing in the publicly accessible Business Directory, an online “yellow-pages” advertisement
• Full-cycle, automated email alert whenever any record of interest is posted or updated
• Access to Online Response Submission, when allowed by the Issuer, to support:
• paperless bid drafting and submission to an encrypted lock-box prior to close date
• electronic signature of OSD forms and terms; agreement to defer wet-ink signature until Contract award, if any
• withdrawal of submitted bids prior to close date
• online storage of submitted bids
Every public purchasing entity within the borders of Massachusetts may post records on Comm-PASS at no charge.
Comm-PASS has the potential to become the sole site for all public entities in Massachusetts. SmartBid fees are only
based on and expended for costs to operate, maintain and develop the Comm-PASS system.
Contract Expansion. If additional funds become available during the contract duration period, the department reserves the
right to increase the maximum obligation to some or all contracts executed as a result of this RFR or to execute contracts
with contractors not funded in the initial selection process, subject to available funding, satisfactory contract performance
and service or commodity need.
Costs. Costs which are not specifically identified in the bidder’s response, and accepted by a department as part of a
contract, will not be compensated under any contract awarded pursuant to this RFR. The Commonwealth will not be
responsible for any costs or expenses incurred by bidders responding to this RFR.
Debriefing. 56256; Required for POS Only. This is an optional specification for non-POS RFRs. Non-successful bidders may
request a debriefing from the department. Department debriefing procedures may be found in the RFR. Non-successful
POS bidders aggrieved by the decision of a department must participate in a debriefing as a prerequisite to an
Debriefing/Appeals: Administrative Appeals to Departments. 56256; Required for POS Only. Not applicable to non-POS
bidders. Non-successful bidders who participate in the debriefing process and remain aggrieved with the decision of the
department may appeal that decision to the department head. Department appeal procedures may be found in the RFR.
Debriefing/Appeals: Administrative Appeals to OSD. 56256; Required for POS Only. Not applicable to non-POS bidders.
commodities or services rendered. Participation in the Electronic Funds Transfer initiative further maximizes the benefits
with payments directed to designated accounts, thus eliminating the impact of check clearance policies and traditional mail
lead time or delays. The Commonwealth benefits because contractors reduce the cost of products and services through the
applied discount. Payments that are processed electronically can be tracked and verified through the Comptroller’s Vendor
Web system. The PPD form can be found under the Forms and Terms tab of this solicitation.
Bidders must submit agreeable terms for Prompt Payment Discount using the PPD form within their proposal, unless
otherwise specified by the PMT. The PMT will review, negotiate or reject the offering as deemed in the best interest of the
The requirement to use PPD offerings may be waived by the PMT on a case-by-case basis if participation in the program
would be unduly burdensome on the bidder. If a bidder is claiming that this requirement is a hardship or unduly
burdensome, the specific reason must be documented in or attached to the PPD form.
Provider Data Management. 56256; Required for POS Only. Not applicable to non-POS bidders. The Executive Office of
Health and Human Services (EOHHS) has established a Provider Data Management (PDM) business service that is
integrated into the Virtual Gateway. PDM is accessible by providers with current POS contracts. Departments may
require that bidders with current POS contracts submit certain RFR-required documents through PDM. These documents
have been specified in the RFR. When submitting documents via PDM, bidders are required to print and sign a PDM
Documentation Summary. PDM users should verify that all information is accurate and current in PDM. Bidders are
required to include the signed PDM Documentation Summary in their RFR response.
Public Records. All responses and information submitted in response to this RFR are subject to the Massachusetts Public
Records Law, M.G.L., c. 66, s. 10, and to c. 4, s. 7, ss. 26. Any statements in submitted responses that are inconsistent
with these statutes shall be disregarded.
Reasonable Accommodation. Bidders with disabilities or hardships that seek reasonable accommodation, which may
include the receipt of RFR information in an alternative format, must communicate such requests in writing to the contact
person. Requests for accommodation will be addressed on a case by case basis. A bidder requesting accommodation must
submit a written statement which describes the bidder’s disability and the requested accommodation to the contact person
for the RFR. The PMT reserves the right to reject unreasonable requests.
Restriction on the Use of the Commonwealth Seal. Bidders and contractors are not allowed to display the Commonwealth
of Massachusetts Seal in their bid package or subsequent marketing materials if they are awarded a contract because use
of the coat of arms and the Great Seal of the Commonwealth for advertising or commercial purposes is prohibited by law.
Subcontracting Policies. Prior approval of the department is required for any subcontracted service of the
contract. Contractors are responsible for the satisfactory performance and adequate oversight of its
subcontractors. Human and social service subcontractors are also required to meet the same state and
federal financial and program reporting requirements and are held to the same reimbursable cost
standards as contractors.
The Department of Agricultural Resources is an Affirmation Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
Women, Minorities, Veterans
and Handicapped persons are encouraged to apply.
This RFR is available in alternative formats upon request.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSE – AGR-AIP11-2 MASACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES
APR Improvement Program Section II - APPLICATION It is important that you read Section I entitled Program Descriptionbefore completing this Section II entitled Application. Key information is contained in Section I. In this Section, special instructions are in bold and Italics. Please read and respond to each question carefully. . Up to 2 pages of extra sheets with additional information may be attached to respond to these questions (letter size paper, font size no smaller than 12). Please type or print clearly in ballpoint pen. Date ________