If you have questions that are not addressed here, email them to MDA.AGRIGrants@state.mn.us with "AGRI Value-Added Questions" in the subject line. We will post all questions and answers on this page.
Q. We are starting a new business. Are we eligible to apply as a start-up?
A. Yes, new businesses are eligible to apply. Start-up costs such as inventory and working capital aren't eligible, but you could apply for funding for equipment and related physical upgrades.
Q. Is equipment for aquaculture eligible for this program?
A. Equipment and infrastructure for the processing of aquaculture as an agricultural product are eligible. Items used to produce fish, shrimp, shellfish, or other aquatic life are not eligible.
Q. I process dry herbs for wholesale. Are drying equipment and a pack shed considered eligible costs?
A. Yes, the drying equipment and the pack shed are both eligible.
Q. Can I obtain a loan to purchase the equipment before a grant contract agreement is signed?
A. You may apply for the grant, but we cannot reimburse expenses that happen prior to the start of the grant contract agreement. If you buy a piece of equipment with a loan before the start of the grant contract agreement, it is not eligible to be reimbursed through the grant.
Q. I am looking to provide food safety support and other technical assistance to value-added businesses. Is that type of work eligible for this grant?
A. No, that type of work would not be eligible. The intent of this program is to help value-added businesses buy equipment to increase production capacity, market diversification, and market access for value-added products.
Q. Is wild rice (being parched, winnowed, and packaged by the harvester in a certified facility) a value-added good? Does the product being cultivated or wild harvested make a difference?
A. Both cultivated and hand-harvested wild rice are eligible for the grant program. Equipment and infrastructure needed for post-harvest activities that add value to the product such as parching, winnowing, and packaging are eligible.
Q. Can I use grant money to buy used equipment?
A. Yes, used equipment is an eligible expense. If you don't identify vendors in your application, purchases may be subject to the State’s bidding requirements. Reimbursement for used equipment requires the same proof of purchase and proof of payment documentation as new equipment, so make sure the seller provides adequate documentation at the time of sale and payment.
Q. Can shipping charges can be included in the grant request?
A. Yes, shipping charges can be included in the grant request in addition to contractor costs and materials for installation of approved equipment including plumbing, drainage, venting, and electrical work.
Q. Can this grant be used to help with the purchase, scale up, or future expansion of a processing business?
A. This grant program is not intended to be used to buy an existing business; however, the grant could be used to scale up or expand a business through equipment purchases and physical improvements. The grant cannot be used for beginning inventory costs, start-up costs, beginning working capital costs, or license fees.
Q. Is it correct that agriculture equipment such as tractors or other harvesting equipment is ineligible?
A. True; equipment and facilities used for agriculture plant or livestock production are ineligible for this grant.
Q. We have a project already started. Can we apply for the grant?
A. You may apply for the grant, but any equipment, installation, or construction started before a grant contract has been signed by all parties is not eligible for reimbursement.
Q. Are administrative expenses eligible for reimbursement with grant funds?
A. No, only the purchase and installation of equipment costs or the costs (materials and labor) for facility improvements are eligible grant expenditures.
Q. Is there a match requirement? Can I use grant funds from another Minnesota state agency as part of my matching funds? Can donated items or volunteer time be used?
A. You must show that you have 75% of the total grant project cost available to use as matching funds. You cannot use funds from the State of Minnesota as the match for the grant. We also can’t accept in-kind matches (non-cash donations of goods or services that can be given a value).
Q. The RFP states that “If you’re requesting a grant of $100,000 or more, you must submit your full business plan. This is optional if you are requesting less than $100,000.” Does the $100,000 requirement for business plans refer to the total project cost or the amount of grant funds requested from MDA?
A: The $100,000 requirement for business plans refers to the amount of grant funds requested from the MDA.
Q. We are looking at two different vendors for an equipment purchase. Are we required to choose a vendor prior to the submission of the grant application?
A. You don’t need to choose vendors prior to submitting your application. However, you might want to choose the vendor for items costing more than $10,000 before we draft the grant contract. If we write the vendor into the contract, you won’t need to collect and provide bids for your purchases from that vendor.
Q. I applied for a previous AGRI Value-Added Grant. Will my old application automatically be considered for this year?
A. No, you will need to submit a new application for the FY24 AGRI Value-Added Grant. You're welcome to edit your application information from the last time you applied for this grant.
Q. Any tips for me as I apply for the grant?
A. Here are a few suggestions:
- If applicable, review your earlier applications.
- Discuss your proposal with your local Economic Development Director or staff at your regional Small Business Association, Initiative Foundation, or Farm Service Agency.
- If you want to review the application of a previously awarded grantee, request it in writing.
- Read the application questions carefully; make sure you answer all of them.
- Submit accurate budget information.
Q. Where can I get help with writing the grant application?
A. Small Business Development Centers, local Economic Development Associations, and Regional Initiative Foundations have resources to help with grant writing. Some applicants have worked with teachers or professional grant writers to help them complete their application.
Q. If I am awarded a grant, will I need to pay taxes on the grant funds I receive?
A. Yes, you will need to pay taxes on the grant funds in the year that you receive them.