BOISE — The Idaho Bean Commission might soon have trouble paying all of its bills because the Idaho State Department of Agriculture delayed the payment of $197,000 in specialty crop grant funding.
The commission has waited a year for the funding from the department, which in 2015 approved the grants for two research projects. Typically, it takes about six weeks to receive specialty crop grant funds once they are requested.
The $197,000 in grant funding is for two projects with University of Idaho researchers. The bean commission pays the university first and then is repaid by the grant funds.
The delay in receiving the grant funding, which is almost equal to the IBC’s annual budget of $200,000, is starting to cause the commission some major challenges.
“I’m holding all invoices until the end of the quarter,” IBC Administrator Andi Woolf-Weibye told commissioners during their regular meeting March 7.
IBC Commissioner Don Tolmie told Capital Press that being $200,000 in the arrears is tough on a small commission.
“It’s getting to be very critical,” he said of the situation. “We’re probably going to have to draw a line in the sand and say, we’re going to quit paying bills except the essential bills to maintain the financial viability of the commission.”
IBC Commissioner Mike Goodson said it’s “basically going to come down to not paying some of the research funding we committed to to make sure we can pay our bills.”
In a statement sent to Capital Press, ISDA officials said the delay has to do with some internal processing issues the department has identified with its specialty crop grant program.
“To rectify these processing issues, changes have been made within ISDA’s Marketing Bureau, which oversees the grant program,” the statement said.
Internal areas needing improvement are related to paperwork and processing “and do not reflect changes to the funds themselves or their availability,” it added.
The funding for ISDA’s specialty crop grant program comes from USDA.
“We are ensuring that we complete our due diligence in implementing the qrants” and “that necessitates some back-and-forth with grant recipients,” the statement said.
Rectifying delays is the department’s highest priority, the statement said, and “we sincerely apologize to the bean commission for any inconvenience.”
IBC Chairman Monty Hamilton said the commission’s main frustration with the delay is with “how much time and effort it’s taking our executive director to redo paperwork that’s already been submitted. It’s taking a lot of her time and energy to focus on that.”
Woolf-Weibye told Capital Press March 12 that ISDA staff has been “working double or triple time” to resolve the issue.