Request for Proposals: Operation of Mobile Quick Freeze Unit
POSTED: September 8th, 2009
DUE: September 28th, 2009, by 5:00 pm (may be e-mailed)
The purpose of this Request for Proposals (RFP) is to identify an organization or entity to operate the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Market’s (Agency) mobile quick freeze unit (Unit) starting in October, 2009. The lease period with the initial lease will extend to October 2011, with an option to extend for a second two year term. A variety of operations models will be considered; each proposal must include an element of expanding Vermont farmer opportunities either through expanding acreage or opening markets for new businesses.
Background to Project:
In 2008, the Agency acquired one of the nation’s first mobile quick freezing units through a grant from USDA – Rural Development. This Unit can quickly freeze products of almost any size and shape. The Unit not only increases the speed with which farmers can freeze their products, but also the quality of the final frozen product. Its mobility allows the Unit to reach many farms, food producers, and commercial kitchens with no single user needing to invest in individual quick freeze capacity. The intent of this mobile Unit is to expand sales opportunities for Vermont farmers, especially in providing ingredients for Vermont specialty products and bringing products to market year-round. This Unit also plays an important role in exploring the feasibility of mobile processing in general as one tool for reducing processing bottlenecks in the state.
The Agency is now seeking an operator to lease and manage the mobile quick freeze Unit from October 2009 – October 2011. This two year period will be considered a no-cost lease of the equipment. The following sections describe the role of the operator, equipment details, the Scope of Work information required for the Agency to make a decision on who will operate the Unit and the criteria that will be used to evaluate proposals.
Role of Operator:
Operator must provide the following required additional equipment:
- 3/4 -ton or greater pick up truck to pull the trailer with a 2 5/16” ball hitch.
- Operating site or sites equipped with appropriate power sources. A 120 volt, 30 Amp. and a 230 volt, 50 Amp. single phase feed are needed. The Unit comes equipped with 50’ power cords. If the farm or other operating site does not have appropriate power receptacles, an electrician can install them.
- Potable water supply. The Unit has cold and hot water inlets with garden hose connectors for the hand washing sink and a dump valve for the gray water. Note: product must be washed in potable water
- Wintertime storage for the Unit that is covered to protect the condenser on top (total height is 11’ 6”) from the elements
Operator may not alter the equipment without prior, written approval from the Agency or transfer the equipment for use by other parties not specified in the original lease without prior, written approval.
The operator will be required to sign a standard state grant, which incorporates a lease agreement for the Unit, and includes the standard Attachment C, which is attached at the end of this RFP. Under the terms, the operator is responsible for carrying insurance to operate the Unit as set forth in the standard Attachment C. The insurance requirements are based on use of the Unit solely within Vermont by an operator who is not also selling the frozen product:
- Workers Compensation (by law)
- Commercial General Liability - $2 million per occurrence. This coverage can be reached either through the operator carrying $2 million or through the operator carrying $1 million and requiring that the producers using the unit also carry $1 million coverage if the product will be used for commercial purposes.
- Commercial Automobile Insurance - $1 million liability along with physical damage coverage (Unit valued at $40,000)
Additional insurance may be required based on final business plan submitted by the operator.
The operator is responsible for general maintenance of the Unit and its annual inspection. The operator is responsible for cleaning the trailer, using only organic standards-approved cleaning agents. If damage occurs to the trailer due to operator negligence or negligence at a site where the operator has delivered the unit, the operator is fully responsible for repairing the Unit. If the lease is nullified by either party for any reason, the Unit must be returned to the Agency in the same condition as when it was first delivered.
While the operator provides a vehicle for towing, the Unit remains state property under the terms of the grant and lease. Therefore, the Agency requires that the operators screen and allow only drivers without serious traffic violations to operate the tow vehicle.
The operator will make the mobile Unit available to the Agency for demonstrations twice a year, if requested. However, the operator’s obligations to make the equipment available to producers will take precedence over demonstration requests.
The lease agreement will outline in detail maintenance, definitions for excess wear, insurance, approved operators, and any other responsibilities incurred through operating state owned equipment. A sample lease is available for review prior to submitting proposal for operating the Unit.
Role of Agency of Agriculture:
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture will remain owner of the quick freezing Unit throughout the grant period. The Agency will provide the following services to the operator :
- Initial training on equipment use
- Preliminary market reviews, performed in summer and fall of 2008
- Technical assistance in exploring / reaching new markets with the mobile processing equipment.
The Vermont Food Venture Center provided initial design and roll out of the mobile quick freeze Unit and will also be available to the operator to answer technical questions.
Equipment & Operation Specifications:
The mobile quick freeze Unit brings a fast, high quality freezer to interested locations. The Unit includes:
- Freezing equipment inside an 8 x 18’ road towable cargo trailer.
- Sites without access to additional processing facilities can use the Unit to freeze berries and other produce that does not require preparation such as blanching. Freezing unit can also be paired with kitchens or other processing space to expand what is frozen.
- Freezing unit is designed to process 600 pounds per hour.
- Trailer includes freezer room to store approximately 800 pounds of berries, but it is expected that users will handle storage because on-trailer space is temporary. The amount of product stored may reduce the hourly freezing capacity due to space limitations.
- Trailer Unit can be easily towed by a pick up truck.
- Trailer Unit requires external electricity source.
- Unit shall be used to freeze only fruit and vegetables and their value added products;
- Unit cannot be used, and not allowed to be used by others, for freezing any product or value added product that the Agency inspects or regulates, such as meat, poultry, any meat or poultry by-product or value added product, any dairy product or value added product that contains a large percentage of dairy product (i.e. strawberry cheesecake; blueberry custard pie) or any product or value added product containing unpasteurized dairy product;
- The operator must ensure that pre-processing requirements for product intended for sale or intended for organizational use with consumption by others receives any pre-processing in a commercial kitchen before being frozen;
A full equipment manual and pictures of the Unit are available on request.
Scope of Work to Be Performed:
Organizations or entities interested in operating the mobile quick freeze unit must provide the following Scope of Work information:
1) Summary of planned use for the Unit
2) Background on the organization’s mission and region served (or, if private business, primary goods & services provided).
- Include past work on expanding processing and value-added options for Vermont farmers
- Indicate organizational capacity to manage unit
3) Goals of using the quick freeze unit including:
- Primary clientele – include whether for commercial purposes, community use, non-profit services, research projects, etc.
- Primary region served
- Reasons why this use will expand market opportunities for farmers
4) Business model
- Fee structure for farmers / other users
- Estimated number of locations served each season
- Structure of use on location – for example, delivery to single farms, delivery to centralized processing locations, single farms open to neighbors’ use, etc.
- Please note any partners or anticipated partners for freezing sites, such as schools, commercial kitchens, incubators, etc.
- Plans for transporting unit – please note that the Agency requires a clean driving record for all operators.
5) Outline of marketing plans to inform producers of the Unit’s availability.
6) Statement of covered, wintertime storage space available and expected location(s)
7) Ways that organization’s operation of the quick freeze Unit will provide information on potential for mobile equipment to alleviate processing bottlenecks in Vermont.
Criteria for Evaluating Proposals:
Proposals will be evaluated based on:
- Organization’s capacity to perform work proposed – including staff time for managing unit, storage options, and past experience in processing or business development.
- Number of farmers who will have access to Unit over course of operation.
- Potential for proposed operation system to expand market options for Vermont farmers.
- Ability to advance the mobile Unit as a pilot project to inform future strategies for increasing Vermont farmers’ processing options.
- Organization’s potential for long-term operation of the Unit beyond October 2011.
Operator will be required to submit usage reports to the Agency of Agriculture at the end of each year of operation. Usage reports should include, at a minimum:
- Locations visited and dates of visit
- Notes on any modifications needed for each operating site (e.g. adding appropriate electric hook up)
- Miles logged towing the Unit
- Number of farmers / other producers using the mobile quick freeze Unit
- Types of product processed
- Volume of product processed (if available)
- Inquiries / requests for use received that were not fulfilled and reason why
- Fees collected / costs incurred
- Accounting of any outside grant funds received to augment use of the mobile Unit
At the end of each year of operation the Agency will also require a narrative summary of activities for the previous year, challenges, opportunities and lessons learned. Summary must include progress towards goals outlined in original proposal and reasons for any changes made from that proposal.
Questions & Requests for Information:
Contact: Helen Labun Jordan at (802) 828-3828 or
PLEASE RETURN PROPOSAL TO:
VT Agency of Agriculture
Attn: Helen Labun Jordan
116 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
(If e-mailing, please check for confirmation of receipt within 1 business day)
Please see the following pages for standard information on Vermont state contracting procedures
ATTACHMENT C: STANDARD STATE PROVISIONS
FOR CONTRACTS AND GRANTS
1. Entire Agreement: This Agreement, whether in the form of a Contract, State Funded Grant, or Federally Funded Grant, represents the entire agreement between the parties on the subject matter. All prior agreements, representations, statements, negotiations, and understandings shall have no effect.
2. Applicable Law: This Agreement will be governed by the laws of the State of Vermont.
3. Definitions: For purposes of this Attachment, “Party” shall mean the Contractor, Grantee or Subrecipient, with whom the State of Vermont is executing this Agreement and consistent with the form of the Agreement.
4. Appropriations: If this Agreement extends into more than one fiscal year of the State (July 1 to June 30), and if appropriations are insufficient to support this Agreement, the State may cancel at the end of the fiscal year, or otherwise upon the expiration of existing appropriation authority. In the case that this Agreement is a Grant that is funded in whole or in part by federal funds, and in the event federal funds become unavailable or reduced, the State may suspend or cancel this Grant immediately, and the State shall have no obligation to pay Subrecipient from State revenues.
5. No Employee Benefits For Party: The Party understands that the State will not provide any individual retirement benefits, group life insurance, group health and dental insurance, vacation or sick leave, workers compensation or other benefits or services available to State employees, nor will the state withhold any state or federal taxes except as required under applicable tax laws, which shall be determined in advance of execution of the Agreement. The Party understands that all tax returns required by the Internal Revenue Code and the State of Vermont, including but not limited to income, withholding, sales and use, and rooms and meals, must be filed by the Party, and information as to Agreement income will be provided by the State of Vermont to the Internal Revenue Service and the Vermont Department of Taxes.
6. Independence, Liability: The Party will act in an independent capacity and not as officers or employees of the State.
The Party shall defend the State and its officers and employees against all claims or suits arising in whole or in part from any act or omission of the Party or of any agent of the Party. The State shall notify the Party in the event of any such claim or suit, and the Party shall immediately retain counsel and otherwise provide a complete defense against the entire claim or suit.
After a final judgment or settlement the Party may request recoupment of specific defense costs and may file suit in Washington Superior Court requesting recoupment. The Party shall be entitled to recoup costs only upon a showing that such costs were entirely unrelated to the defense of any claim arising from an act or omission of the Party.
The Party shall indemnify the State and its officers and employees in the event that the State, its officers or employees become legally obligated to pay any damages or losses arising from any act or omission of the Party.
7. Insurance: [NOTE] Insurance requirements subject to scope of proposal for operation of Unit] Before commencing work on this Agreement the Party must provide certificates of insurance to show that the following minimum coverages are in effect. It is the responsibility of the Party to maintain current certificates of insurance on file with the state through the term of the Agreement. No warranty is made that the
coverages and limits listed herein are adequate to cover and protect the interests of the Party for the Party’s operations. These are solely minimums that have been established to protect the interests of the State.
Workers Compensation: With respect to all operations performed, the Party shall carry workers’ compensation insurance in accordance with the laws of the State of Vermont.
General Liability and Property Damage: With respect to all operations performed under the contract, the
Party shall carry general liability insurance having all major divisions of coverage including, but not limited
Premises - Operations
Products and Completed Operations
Personal Injury Liability
The policy shall be on an occurrence form and limits shall not be less than:
$1,000,000 Per Occurrence
$1,000,000 General Aggregate
$1,000,000 Products/Completed Operations Aggregate
$ 50,000 Fire/ Legal/Liability
Party shall name the State of Vermont and its officers and employees as additional insureds for liability arising out of this Agreement.
Automotive Liability: The Party shall carry automotive liability insurance covering all motor vehicles, including hired and non-owned coverage, used in connection with the Agreement. Limits of coverage shall not be less than: $1,000,000 combined single limit. Party shall name the State of Vermont and its officers and employees as additional insureds for liability arising out of this Agreement.
8. Reliance by the State on Representations: All payments by the State under this Agreement will be made in reliance upon the accuracy of all prior representations by the Party, including but not limited to bills, invoices, progress reports and other proofs of work.
9. Requirement to Have a Single Audit: In the case that this Agreement is a Grant that is funded in whole or in part by federal funds, and if this Subrecipient expends $500,000 or more in federal assistance during its fiscal year, the Subrecipient is required to have a single audit conducted in accordance with the Single Audit Act, except when it elects to have a program specific audit.
The Subrecipient may elect to have a program specific audit if it expends funds under only one federal program and the federal program‟s laws, regulating or grant agreements do not require a financial statement audit of the Party.