USDA Rural Development and Ag Research Grants

On September 2, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will close the door of opportunity for a series of small business grants.  That date is the deadline for grant applications to be received by the federal agency.

The grants are designed for small businesses to pursue innovative research on important problems facing American agriculture and rural areas of the nation that could lead to a significant public benefit.  Small businesses are defined as having fewer than 500 employees.

According to the USDA, up to 80 grants of up to $70,000 each could be awarded nationwide.  Research applications in the following areas will be considered:

  • Plant production and protection; 
  • Animal production and protection; 
  • Air, water and soils; 
  • Food science and nutrition; 
  • Rural and community development; 
  • Industrial applications; and 
  • Marketing and trade.

For example, grant requests in the area of rural and community development "...should not concentrate primarily on the development of new technology, but rather on applying new or existing technology to address important issues or solving significant problems.  The proposals do not need to be centered on agriculture, but may be focused on any area  information systems, education, health care    that has the potential of providing significant benefits to rural America."

The Ag Department suggests that successful grant winners will include a market feasibility study as part of the six month project.

Several suggested areas for projects included 1) development of income or employment opportunities, 2) improvements in service delivery by local governments and public institutions, and 3) employment and revenue generating opportunities.

More information about the grants, including application forms, can be obtained at

Return to the Summer 1999 Newsletter