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Agriculture Innovation Center Program

Open
Application Deadline. Completed applications for grants must be submitted electronically by no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, March 6, 2023, through Grants.gov. Late applications are not eligible for funding under this notice and will not be evaluated. All components of the application must be submitted with the Grants.gov submission. The Agency will not accept additional information through other submission methods, such as email or courier delivery.


What does this program do?

The purpose of this program is to establish and operate Agriculture Innovation Centers (Centers) that provide technical and business development assistance to Agricultural Producers seeking to engage in developing and marketing of Value-Added Agricultural Products.

Program Funding: $8 million.

Maximum Grant Amount: $1,000,000 (may be less at the discretion of the Agency).

Who may apply for this program?

Matching Funds Requirement:
Matching funds are required for at least one-third of the total project budget. For example, if the total project budget is $1,500,000, matching funds must be at least $500,000. Matching funds may be provided in cash by the applicant or a third party or in-kind by a third party. They must be available for use during the period of performance, and they must be used for allowable expenses.

How may funds be used?
Grant and matching funds may be used to operate an agriculture innovation center, and to provide the following services to agricultural producers:

  • Business development services, including feasibility studies and business plans.
  • Market development services, including marketing plans, branding, and customer identification.
  • Financial advisory services, including assistance with preparing financial statements, and assessing financing options.
  • Process development services, including engineering services, scale production assessments, and systems development.
  • Organizational assistance, including legal and technical advisory services.
  • Value chain coordination, including connecting an agricultural producer to a distribution system, processing facility, or commercial kitchen.
  • Product development (excluding research and development), including concept testing, feasibility and cost analysis, product taste-testing, demographic and other types of consumer analysis, production analysis, and evaluation of packaging and labeling options.
  • Grants of $5,000 or less to agricultural producers for the above services, where the aggregate amount does not exceed $50,000.

How do we get started?

Before you apply: 

  • Register your organization with the System for Award Management (SAM), if you aren’t already registered. The registration is free. You need to complete several steps. It’s a good idea to start the registration process at least a month before any application deadline. Before you start the registration process, we suggest reading through the HELP materials available on the SAM website. Make a note of your Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code and expiration date because you’ll need those for your application.

Forms and Resources:
Select the To Apply tab to access program forms and resource information.

Who can answer questions?

Gail Thuner, Direct Programs Branch, Program Management Division, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, United States Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue SW, MS 3201, Room 5803-South, Washington, DC 20250-3250

Phone - 202-720-1400 Email SM.RBCS.AIC@usda.gov.

Persons with disabilities that require alternative means for communication should contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Target Center at (202) 720–2600 (voice).

Will I need to send any reports if I receive a grant?
Yes, you must send regular financial and performance reports. Your financial assistance agreement will explain how often to send the reports, what forms to use, and what information is mandatory.

Where can I get more information about the program?
Please read the Federal Register notice for important information needed before applying for the grant. You can find Agriculture and Innovation Center regulations on the e-CFR.

Additional Requirement:

Please read the Federal Register notice for the details on what is needed for an application. Make sure you begin gathering the required information at least one month before the application deadline. Documents, such as letters of commitment, a work plan and budget, and other information, or support from other organizations, will take time to research or write. You can get copies of those forms from your nearest Rural Development office, or at grants.gov.

Required Forms:

Application Materials:

Below are optional tools that you can use to assemble your application. Note that you do not have to use these tools, and the use of them does not guarantee funding or a higher score. Additionally, if you note a conflict between the tool and the Federal Register notice, the Notice always prevails. Finally, the Application Template is set up with the required elements in a different order than they appear in the Notice. This difference in order is not required; it is simply an option to group components so that the items more likely to need attachments or additional documentation are set up as Appendices at the end of the application.

Application Template | DOC
Application Checklist | DOC
 

There are no additional requirements at the national level. If there are additional state-specific requirements, they will be listed above.

Gail Thuner, Direct Programs Branch, Program Management Division, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, United States Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue SW, MS 3201, Room 5803-South, Washington, DC 20250-3250

Phone - 202-720-1400 Email SM.RBCS.AIC@usda.gov.

Persons with disabilities that require alternative means for communication should contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Target Center at (202) 720–2600 (voice).

Training Session - The Agency will offer one training session for potential applicants on January 13, 2023 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). The training session will provide an overview of the requirements for the program and address questions posed by potential applicants. It is expected that the session will be offered via webinar and will have a duration of approximately two hours. The session will be recorded and available for viewing within two weeks. Details for how to access the webinar and recording will be posted on the program's website. | Registration