The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has expressed the readiness to grant applications for grants to establish and operate “Agriculture Innovation Centers”.

$7.4 million is presently available to help rural businesses.  USDA said grants under the Agriculture Innovation Center Programme 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.

All recipients need to be eligible is to 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.

According to the program, grant and matching funds may be used to operate an Agriculture Innovation Center and to provide services to agricultural producers. Some of the services include:

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

Those eligible for the grants include public bodies, federally recognized Indian tribes, higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations and for-profit corporations.

The deadline to apply is Sept.

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