The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for grants to establish and operate Agriculture Innovation Centers, with $7.4 million available under the Agriculture Innovation Center Program to help rural businesses produce and market value-added products.

The grants may be used to provide technical assistance to help agricultural producers develop and market value-added agricultural projects using a variety of options, except joint marketing efforts. 

Recipients must provide matching funds of at least one-third of the total project budget and both grant awards and matching funds must be included in the total project budget. 

The maximum grant amount is $1 million. 

Grant and matching funds may be used to operate an Agriculture Innovation Center and to provide the following services to agricultural producers:

• Consulting services for legal, accounting, and technical services to be used in establishing and operating a center.

• Hiring employees for the center

• Making of matching grants to agricultural producers

• Applied research

• Legal Services

• Technical assistance, including engineering services, scale production assessments, market planning and development, business planning 

• Financial advisory services to develop, expand or operate a business owned by an agricultural producer,

• Process development services, such as engineering production system scale-ups, scale productions assessments and systems development

• Technical assistance for product development, excluding research and development 

• Technical assistance for applied research to develop and operate processes and systems to produce and market value-added agricultural products. 

This program supports Rural Development’s mission of improving the quality of life for rural Americans and its commitment to directing resources to those who most need them. 

Eligible applicants include public bodies, Federally-Recognized Indian Tribes, higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations and for-profit corporations. 

Applicants must have a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number prior to application, a number should be requested at least one month prior to the application deadline, as well as registered with the System for Award Management (SAM). 

Consortiums are eligible to apply but must select a single organization to represent the consortium as the applicant, which must meet the eligibility requirements. 

Applications must be submitted through no later than Sept. 27, 2021.