Details on this page apply to the Fiscal Year 2021 "First Half' Program (which ended 12/31/2020). We're reviewing program participation and modifying some processes and hope to release the "Second Half' Program by February 29, 2021. Check back for more information and sign up for our New Markets Notes newsletter to hear about this and other opportunities.

Our AGRI New Markets Cost-Share Program can help your Minnesota farm or food or beverage company take advantage of market opportunities through E-commerce, merchandising, tradeshows, or store demos.

We’ve adapted to help you meet the challenges and opportunities of COVID-impacted food supply chains and changing consumer behavior. You can apply for two types of cost-shares (details below):

  1. E-Commerce Cost-Share
  2. Cost-Share for Wholesale Food Businesses
two men talking to prospective buyer at tradeshow

Funds Available

We have up to $250,000 available for reimbursements for expenses incurred between July 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 (the first half of our fiscal year). Check back in December to see the amount available for the second half of the fiscal year.

Funding for this program comes from the Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) Program (Minnesota Statute 41A.12), with funds from the Federal CARES Act for entities affected by COVID-19.

General Program Rules

These cost-share programs are reimbursed at a rate of 50 percent of eligible costs unless noted in the specific program details.

To apply for either of these programs, your business must be:

  • A Minnesota farm or a food or beverage company registered with the Minnesota Secretary of State
  • A small-to-medium enterprise (SME), which is an entity with fewer than 500 employees

You must also agree to:

  • Promptly return post-event and follow-up surveys that ask for information including the number of leads generated and sales projections.
  • Retain receipts and records for three years and make them available for audit or inspection by the MDA or state auditor on request.

We reserve the right to deny claims from entities not in good standing with the State, or those who do not comply with the program requirements. Companies and farms who win awards at MDA-sponsored events may exceed annual limits by the amount of that award. Booth discounts reimbursed for Minnesota Pavilion booth space are also exempt from annual limits.

Application Deadlines

We process applications on a first-come, first-served basis until the application deadline or funds are gone, whichever is first.

Eligible Period

Activity Dates
(Fiscal Year 2021)

Application Deadline

FY 21 first half

July 1 – December 31, 2020

January 10, 2021

FY 21 second half

January 1, 2021 – June 30, 2021

July 9, 2021

Example: A business demos their product three times: August 26, September 15, and January 5. The first two demos must be submitted for reimbursement by the deadline for FY 21 first half, while the January 5 demo must be submitted by the FY 21 second half deadline.

How to Apply

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E-Commerce Cost-Share

$4,000 is the maximum reimbursement per entity from July 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020 (the first half of FY 21).

E-commerce cost-sharing is targeted at Minnesota Grown farms with value-added products and food and beverage manufacturers who make branded products in Minnesota. Those holding local (municipal) food licenses may also be eligible if the MDA has provided delegated authority to the municipality, and if their locally delegated license permits wholesale sales. Cottage Food producers with a Minnesota Grown license are eligible but must follow the regulations regarding online sales. Any of the MDA licenses below may provide eligibility:

Eligible E-commerce expenses might include:

  • E-commerce platform registration and sign-up fees, fees paid based on sales, and fees for advertising and premium positioning
  • E-commerce consulting/management contracts
  • E-commerce training and educational event attendance
  • Website design and setup contracting, including photography or videography (if e-commerce is the focus)
  • Website extensions such as store locators and other web store utilities
  • Social media advertising to drive traffic to your e-commerce site
  • Additional marketing services used to increase, develop, or diversify your e-commerce marketing

Ineligible E-Commerce expenses include:

  • Equipment, hardware, and supplies
  • Electronic payment transaction fees (i.e. Stripe, Paypal, etc.)
  • Merchandise (Merch) and merchandise processing fees

Contact us if you have questions on eligibility or qualified expenses.

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exhibitor at tradeshow showing products to potential buyers

Cost-Share for Wholesale Food Businesses

From July 1 to December 31, 2020 (the first half of FY 21):

  • If your products are made in Minnesota, $4,000 is the maximum reimbursement per entity from Cost-Share for Wholesale Food Businesses.
  • If your product is manufactured outside of Minnesota, $2,000 is the maximum reimbursement.

To be eligible, you must meet the general program requirements.

Eligible expenses include:

  • Business-Business (B2B) Tradeshow costs:
    • Booth rental (if there is a Minnesota Pavilion booth space available at an event, booth rental is NOT eligible)
    • Badge scanner/lead retrieval services
    • Compostable sampling costs (i.e. cutlery and porter service)
    • Virtual B2B tradeshow registration
    • Shipping of samples to specific businesses for 1:1 meetings scheduled as part of a virtual domestic B2B tradeshow
    • Videography created for a virtual B2B tradeshow
  • Merchandising costs:
    • Contracted merchandising and point-of-sale promotion
    • End cap promotions with retail chains/retailers
    • Retailer promotional flyer participation costs
    • Note: If paid by chargeback/discounted payment, you must provide a receipt, invoice, or purchase order showing clear itemization of these costs
  • In-Store Demo costs:
    • Must be a retail product demonstration in a store where your product is sold (this does NOT include sales at consumer events like farmers’ markets, festivals, fairs, etc.)
    • May include labor for an employee, owner, or contracted help at a flat rate of $10/hour
    • May include mileage at $0.50/mile up to a maximum of $200 per demo (valid only for owners or employees, not contractors)
  • Minnesota Pavilion Mentorship costs:
    • Only for approved participants in our Minnesota Pavilion Mentorship Program
    • One-time reimbursement per company; maximum $500
    • For expenses including airfare, hotel/lodging, car rental, education sessions, and badge for entry

Contact us if you have questions on eligibility or qualified expenses.

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Additional Information

Cost-Share for Wholesale Food Businesses FAQs

Traditional business-to-business (B2B) tradeshows are showcases for manufacturers to display their products to wholesale buyers. Manufacturers and brand owners contract to rent a booth space at an event so they can pitch their products to buyers in-person. Virtual tradeshows are online events that include 1:1 meetings between manufacturers and wholesale buyers that are arranged in advance by an event organization or trade association. Events that include general “consumer” attendance or admission do not qualify as tradeshows.

Badge scanning is a way for exhibitors to electronically collect and compile leads at an event. It is usually accomplished by purchasing and downloading an app from the event organizer. The app then allows exhibitors to take photos of attendee (buyer) badges with their smart phone/device and keep all the information in one place. It’s a replacement for sharing business cards, although cards are still used.

Merchandising is the practice and process of displaying and selling products to customers. Point-of-sale promotions place products and signage in key locations to draw customer attention. When a manufacturer/brand owner grows their market reach and “store count” beyond their ability to effectively manage their products in individual stores, they might contract with another company for help. Contracted merchandising and POS promotion may be provided a broker or an independent entity/company with retail chain relationships.

In brick-and-mortar retail stores, brands compete for limited shelf space. Stores may charge fees for the best locations and for listing products in their grocery advertisements. End cap promotions display products on the very visible “end” of a grocery aisle and are often used for promotional pricing such as Buy One, Get One (BOGO). Retail flyer promotions include product placement in store-sponsored circulars or brochures.

Privacy Notice

The information provided as part of the New Markets program cost-share application will be used to assess the applicant’s eligibility to receive payment under the MDA New Markets program and to fulfill applicable financial reporting requirements. Completing this application is voluntary; applicants are not legally required to provide the MDA with the information requested, but only completed applications will be considered. While much of the information applicants provide is classified by Minnesota law as public, some of the information may be classified by law as private or nonpublic at the MDA. Data classified as private or nonpublic will be accessible only to MDA employees and contractors that have a work assignment that requires access to the data, and to other entities authorized by state or federal law to receive the data. The MDA may be obligated to provide the data to law enforcement, the Minnesota Department of Administration, Minnesota Management and Budget, the Office of the State Auditor, or the Office of the Legislative Auditor. Finally, private data about you may be released to third parties through your informed consent, or pursuant to a valid court order or federal subpoena.

Internal Revenue Service Code Section 6109 requires applicants to provide their correct taxpayer identification number to payers who must file information returns with the IRS. The MDA will use the information provided on the applicant’s W-9 form in order to report payments received as part of the New Markets program to the IRS. The IRS uses the numbers for identification purposes and to help verify the accuracy of the applicant’s tax return. For more information on how the information provided on a W-9 may be used, refer to the Privacy Act Notice on page 6 of the W-9 form.