UFarm Frequently Asked Questions
Last updated June 14, 2019.
What is UFarm?
UFarm is a field research tool developed on an online platform that is designed to properly charge crop management services while meeting the following objectives:
- Ensure compliance with federal regulations (2 CFR 200 §200.468) in order to appropriately charge crop costs to federal awards.
- Minimize risk and audit disallowance for IFAS faculty and Recs/Sites. All RECs/Sites charging crops on unapproved rates are vulnerable to auditor scrutiny for costs charged on federal grants.
- Provide Administrative Relief – creating a uniform study request form using local workflow approval will give RECs/Sites and faculty a consistent and unambiguous process to initiating, servicing, and completing field research studies.
- Generate Research Data – UFarm will provide online “dashboards” designed to provide various stakeholders an accurate picture of crop and grove research occurring within the Institute. This data set will assist the SVP, Dean for Research, Unit Leaders, Center Directors, and Faculty, to bring awareness and show overall impact for the Institute’s collective field and grove research.
Where does the UFarm rate money go?
All funding paid via work billed at a REC/Site returns in full to that location where the research study was conducted.
How were these initial UFarm rates determined?
Rates were developed via an Educational Business Activity (EBA) process as provided by UF’s Controller’s Office. Rates were submitted to a Controller-appointed committee for review and approval. Initial UFarm rates will be valid until refreshed – such rate updates are expected to be on an annual basis.
Only one site (PSREU) was used to create the initial UFarm rates. All costs were collected and accounted for via the 2018 trial balance as determined by myUFL accounting for this Unit. Costs used for rate setting are in accordance with 2 CFR.
What is the EBA process?
An EBA (Educational Business Activity) is a revenue-generating activity from the provision of goods and/or services. Such activity enhances, promotes or supports the University’s instruction, research, public service, and campus support functions and other educational and support functions in order to meet the needs of students, faculty, staff and members of the public participating in University events and programs.
Each EBA requires business plan submission to be approved by the Auxiliary Advisory Committee made up members from Finance & Accounting and ultimately approved by the University Controller and Chief Financial Officer.
Why did we use PSREU to create these initial UFarm rates?
PSREU was selected due to their breadth of commodity representation across IFAS, composing 86% of the commodities found across all IFAS RECs/Sites. Additionally, PSREU had been preparing (independent of UFarm project) for a required rate refresh by establishing new DEPTIDs and new Flexcodes to be compliant with current regulations. While other RECs/Sites were examined (and their location-specific costs), it was simply not possible to extract cost information from myUFL for rate calculations using this EBA process.
Why is it more or less expensive than what I paid in the past?
Given that there are no other RECs/Sites with an approved rate nor cost accounting structure to determine rate validity coupled with an initial sample size and only one year of data, more RECs/Sites and corresponding data will need to be in the myUFL system which, over time, will better define UFarm rates.
Is this initial UFarm rate the final rate?
No, this initial rate information will be refreshed and “harmonized” for all IFAS RECs/Sites. Eventually, all IFAS locations engaged in field research will contribute to the UFarm rates. In this interim period, UF has given IFAS provisional approval to use UFarm rates for commodities under research where applicable.
How will my REC/Site join UFarm?
UF/IFAS Office of the Dean for Research will be onboarding IFAS RECs/Sites to UFarm over fiscal year 2020. In July 2019, this effort began in these locations:
|Plant Science REU||Indian River REC||Everglades REC|
|Southwest Florida REC||West Florida REC||Mid-Florida REC|
|Ft. Lauderdale REC||Tropical REC|
From September 2019-January 2020 these locations will be onboarded:
|Citrus REC||Hastings AEC||North Florida REC - Quincy|
|Gulf Coast REC||North Florida REC - Marianna||North Florida REC - Suwannee Valley|
Training will be offered to REC staff as part of the onboarding process.
When will more commodity rates become available?
UF IFAS/ Office of the Dean for Research are currently working to develop rates for tropical commodities via data obtained from TREC. Such rate data will then be submitted for approval. Rates will hopefully be approved and become additional UFarm rates – available to all RECs/Sites.
Does it matter if my REC/Site conducts field research differently than another REC/Site on the same commodity?
No, UFarm rates will be refreshed and harmonized over time so that all costs at all RECs/Sites are considered – yielding one well-defined and approved rate. Even though a particular REC/Site may manage their farm differently than another site, all costs are used and accounted for IFAS-wide.
Note that if an REC/Site is the dominant location (i.e. most acreage) for a commodity under research, then its farming practices and costs will be the primary rate setter for all of IFAS. For example, this is expected to be true for strawberries (GCREC); peanuts (NFREC); citrus (CREC) and potatoes (Hastings AEC).
What about site specific issues that each REC/Site will face? How are those factored into the rate?
No (breakout) adjustments are being made for efforts like freeze protection in northern IFAS locations or pest deterrence in southern IFAS locations. All costs will be used and blended together. If a REC/Site is more costly or cost-effective on a per acre basis (e.g. 40-inch rows vs 60-inch rows), this will be taken into consideration and push costing in that REC/Site’s direction (i.e. up/down) as such acreage compares IFAS-wide.
How do I identify the UFarm costs in a grant proposal in UFirst?
Your UFarm charges (i.e. approved rate x acres/study) should be listed in your UFIRST proposals under the category “OTHER” along with the phrase “UFarm/Approved Crop Management Charges” in the description field. If your proposal involves multiple studies with the same commodity over seasons and/or years, then that UFarm charge will need to be multiplied by the number of proposed studies.
What if my grant has special requirements?
The UF/IFAS Office of the Dean for Research are working on when it might be advantageous for you to add costs (beyond the UFarm rate) within your proposal. As additional details come from the Division of Sponsored Programs (DSP) and Contracts and Grants (CnG), additional costing guidance will be communicated.
How do I gain access to UFarm?
Your Unit’s Department Security Administrator (DSA) will need to request a role for you in myUFL. The role you’ll need depends on your Unit’s determination.
How do I price my field work for a proposal?
As a part of the delivered software tool known as UFarm, there is a calculator for you to estimate the costs for your proposal. This information is delivered to you and can be used as supporting documentation in UFirst. For multiple year funding opportunities, there is also an escalation factor in this proposal estimator of 3.0% annually.
What does it mean to be "onboarded" to UFarm?
The UF/IFAS Office of Dean for Research will be meeting with Units (specifically farm managers and fiscal staff) to help build understanding of the new tool – UFarm. Further, there will be a concerted effort to provide details to help in using new Flexcodes to “tag” a REC/Site’s expenses for future use in the new fund (Fund 183) to refresh rates. This REC/Site onboarding process has been scheduled across IFAS. No action is needed on your part for this effort as some onboarding dates are not yet known.
Who is doing the billing for UFarm?
The UF/IFAS Office of the Dean for Research will be handling all billing for UFarm on a monthly basis. Initially, an approach that has been approved by UF’s Finance & Accounting is being used. Work continues to determine and implement a UF-wide billing solution for all EBAs.
What if I want to use a lower rate for a particular sponsor?
This is a unified and approved process across all RECs and Sites within IFAS. No one will not be permitted to increase or reduce the approved UF rate for a particular commodity.
What are the next steps for the UFarm launch effort?
- UF Enterprise Systems is finalizing the software that will be used by faculty and staff, RECs/Sites, and for billing. Quality Assurance Testing (QAT) is expected to begin in late June for a July release of the online UFarm platform.
- UF’s Finance & Accounting (and UF Enterprise Systems) is configuring a new fund for all EBA approvals. Once UFarm is onboarded at a REC/Site, this fund (Fund 183) will be utilized.
- All billing is being handled by the UF/IFAS Office of the Dean for Research.
Who can I talk to if I have additional questions?
Please contact the UF/IFAS Office of the Dean for Research at UFarmHelp@ifas.ufl.edu with any questions.