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USDA/RUS RIN: 0572-AC50 Publication ID: Fall 2021 
Title: Smart Utility Authority for Broadband 

Rural Development (RD) will implement one mission-area-wide regulation to cover all three RD agencies’ loan and grant programs related to broadband programs. The rule will implement provisions as set forth in section 6210 of the 2018 Farm Bill.  Funds may be used for any activity for which assistance is provided under section 601 (Access to Broadband Telecommunications Services in Rural Areas) of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 and/or funds may be used to construct other broadband infrastructure (such as middle mile facilities, etc.). Limitations on the use of funding assistance will be addressed in the rule as imposed by Section 6210 of the 2018 Farm Bill:

1. Not more than 10 percent of any financial assistance may be used to provide retail broadband service; in cases where retail broadband service is being proposed, applicants will need to comply with the public notice requirements of section 6207 of the 2018 Farm Bill;

2. Funds may only be used in an area that is not being provided with the minimum acceptable level of broadband (established under 601(d) of the RE Act);

3. This authority shall not be construed to limit the availability of any borrower to finance or deploy services previously authorized; and

4. This authority cannot be used if it would result in competitive harm to any Rural Development grant, loan, or loan guarantee recipient.

As this new rule applies to all RD agencies, each agency, at their sole discretion, will determine which agency regulations will require conforming amendments after enactment of this new rule.

Agency: Department of Agriculture(USDA)  Priority: Substantive, Nonsignificant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 7 CFR 1980 subpart M   
Legal Authority: Pub. L. 115-334   
Legal Deadline:  None
Action Date FR Cite
Final Rule; Request for Comments  09/15/2020  85 FR 57077   
Final Rule Effective  09/15/2020 
Final Rule Comment Period End  11/16/2020 
Final Action  04/00/2022 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: No 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Jonathan Claffey
Policy Advisor
Department of Agriculture
Rural Utilities Service
1400 Independence Avenue SW,
Washington, DC 20250
Phone:202 720-9545