Agricultural Infrastructure Investment Program(AIIP) – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The application Agricultural Infrastructure Investment Program closed on 2/25/2022 at 11:59PM. Updates about the grant will be communicated to all grant applicants as soon as they are available.

Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry

(ARPA Initiative: Bureau of Agriculture 0393, Farm & Food Sustainability)

Q1. I am an aquaculture farmer, am I eligible for these funds?

No. For funding opportunities related to fisheries and aquaculture, please review the Department of Marine Resources website

Q2. Where can I find out more information about the AIIP grant opportunity?

We are offering multiple ways to learn about the program:

The CEI website: Agricultural Infrastructure Investment (AIIP) Program | CEI (ceimaine.org)

The Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry website: Agricultural Development Grant: Agricultural Resource Development Division: Maine DACF

Office Hours— CEI will be holding ‘office hours’: 2-hour open Zoom sessions 2 times per week during the application period to answer questions. Please register on the CEI website.

Webinars— on January 4th and January 11th, at noon on both dates. Please register on the CEI website. These will be recorded and posted to the CEI website. We can make translation/interpreter services available with notice.

Q3. How do I know if I am an eligible business?

Please refer to the AIIP Overview document on the CEI website for information on eligibility for the AIIP: Agricultural Infrastructure Investment (AIIP) | CEI (ceimaine.org)

Q4. How do I know if my proposed project is an eligible use of funds?

Please refer to the AIIP Overview document on the CEI website for information on eligible use of AII grant funds:  Agricultural Infrastructure Investment (AIIP) | CEI (ceimaine.org)

Q5. What is the maximum amount I can apply for?

If you are a FARM (see question #11 for definition), you can apply for up to $250,000; if you are a PROCESSOR (see question #12 for definition), you can apply for up to $500,000.

Q6.  Can I email someone if I have a question?

Please email AgGrantSupport@ceimaine.org  with any questions and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. CEI offices will be closed December 24, 2021-January 2, 2022. If you email us during that time we will respond starting on January 3, 2022.

Q7. Does my company have to be located in Maine to be eligible for the AIIP?

Yes

Q8. Do I need a DUNS number to apply?

Yes.

Please note that you will need a DUNS number to apply.  You can register for a DUNS number here: Get a D-U-N-S Number – Establish Your Business – D&B (dnb.com)
Be sure to select “I am a US Government Contractor or Grantee” from the drop-down list (NOT I have a US Based Business) Note: there is no fee to register for a DUNS number, but the process can take a few days. Do not wait until the last minute to obtain a DUNS number.

Note: there is no fee to register for a DUNS number, but the process can take a few days. Do not wait until the last minute to obtain a DUNS number.

Q9. Is this AIIP grant taxable?

The ARPA-funded grants are taxable income and subject to audit.

Q10. If I received other federal grant funding in 2020 or 2021, can I still apply?

Yes. However, you cannot use other federal grant funding for the same expenses that you are applying for through the AIIP grant.

Q11. What qualifies as a farm?

A farm is defined as an agricultural business that produces and sells at least $1,000 of agricultural products annually. Eligible activities include producing food for human consumption. Additionally: 

  • Conventional, organic, and other agricultural production practices are eligible.
  • Indoor farming and hydro- and aquaponics are eligible.
  • Feedstock for livestock raised for meat, dairy, and value-added food manufacturing is eligible.
  • Flowers and horticulture products are eligible.
  • Animal production for meat/poultry, dairy, and value-added food manufacturing is eligible.
  • Fiber and non-food items from animals (e.g., soaps) are not eligible.
  • Hemp, cannabis, and CBD products are not eligible.
  • Beauty and cosmetic products are not eligible.
  • Evergreen products are not eligible

Q12. What qualifies as a processor?

A processor is defined as a business that produces processed agricultural foods grown or raised in Maine, including: 

  • Vegetable, fruit, dairy and meat processors;
  • Grain milling and processing;
  • Co-packers; and
  • Value-add producers and processors.

Q13. What qualifies as processed food?

Processed food is defined as one that has undergone any changes to its natural state—that is, any raw agricultural product subjected to significant washing, cleaning, milling, cutting, chopping, heating, pasteurizing, blanching, cooking, canning, freezing, slaughtering, butchering, drying, dehydrating, mixing, packaging, or other procedures that alter the food from its natural state. The food may include the addition of other ingredients such as preservatives, flavors, nutrients and other food additives or substances approved for use in food products, such as salt, sugars, and fats. Agricultural processing for the AIIP means processing foods that are grown and raised in the state of Maine.

Q14. How does the program define Agriculture Infrastructure?

Agricultural Infrastructure can be inclusive of transportation, storage, co-packing, processing, essential equipment, and any other structures, improvements, and services that are an activity of or related to a farm or an agricultural food processing business.

Q15. What is considered an Agricultural Business?

Agricultural Business encompasses farming and farming-related commercial activities. For the purposes of the AIIP, agricultural businesses include farms, processors and value-added producers that source Maine grown and raised products.

Q16. What is Value-Added Production?

Value-added production involves change(s) in the physical state or form of the product (such as milling wheat into flour or making strawberries into jam). For the purposes of the AIIP, value-added production must include Maine raised or grown products.

Q17. I own two Maine food businesses.  Can I apply for ARPA AIIP funds for both?

Please see our policy on ‘Affiliated Businesses’: Agricultural Infrastructure Investment (AIIP) | CEI (ceimaine.org)

Q18.  Can I use this grant to reimburse expenses?

No. Funds must be used for near-term future expenses for the project proposed in the application.  You cannot use funds to reimburse any expenses incurred prior to the award notification date.

Q19. How long will it take me to complete the application?

It will depend on the size, scale and scope of your project.  We strongly encourage you to begin your application early (but it is NOT a first come, first serve process – this is a competitive grant program). Please review the application here: Agricultural Infrastructure Investment (AIIP)| CEI (ceimaine.org). Some questions require written responses, and there is a project budget you must complete.  You will want to take time to think through your project and explain it thoroughly and in detail. You will be able to save your application and come back to work on it later—you do not have to finish it in one sitting.  But do not wait to begin the application until the last minute.

Q20. How can I get my files attached to my application?

Note: You do not have to complete your application in one sitting.  You can save your work and come back later to finish and submit. However, you must submit a fully completed application by the deadline to be considered.

To attach your files to the application:

  • Save as a .pdf and upload it in the application.
  • Save as an image (taken with phone or other device) and upload in the application.
  • Use a free app like Genius Scan Genius Scan to create and upload .pdf in the application.
  • Export from Notes on iPhone: How to Export Your Apple Notes as PDF Files on Any Device (makeuseof.com).
  • Reach out to your local resources—your local libraries, schools or universities likely have computer technology that you can use, and people who can help you upload your materials.

Q21. What happens after I submit my application?

You will immediately receive a confirmation email that your application has been submitted. If you do not see that confirmation, please check your spam and promotional folders. If you do still do not see a confirmation, do not assume that your submission was successful. Please try to resubmit or contact CEI for assistance.

Q22.  What is the application deadline?

The application deadline is 11:59pm EST on February 25, 2022.

Q23. What if I miss the application deadline?

Applications will not be accepted after the deadline, which is 11:59pm EST on February 25, 2022.

Q24.  I think I made a mistake on my application.  Can I fix it?

Prior to the application deadline, you can work on your application and save it, and come back to make revisions before submitting it. However, after the deadline (11:59 pm EST on February 25, 2022), you cannot revise your application.

Q25. Can I get in touch with questions about the application and the grant award process after the deadline?

Unfortunately, we cannot make changes or address questions once the application period closes after the deadline of 11:59 pm on February 25, 2022. Please begin your application early and reach out to us during scheduled office hours with questions, and attend or watch recordings of the webinars, well ahead of the deadline to give yourself enough time to answer all the questions. Please check out the CEI website for information: Agricultural Infrastructure Investment (AIIP) | CEI (ceimaine.org)

Q26. How long before I hear if I was awarded funds?

We are anticipating a 5-week review period after the application deadline, although it is possible we will need to extend that depending on the volume of applications received.

Q27.  Will I hear only if I get an award, or will you let me know if I did not receive an award?

We will send out notification either way—that you received an award or did not receive an award.

Q28. If I apply for a smaller award, is my project more likely to be funded? 

No, request size has no bearing on decisions. 

Q29. Will you make partial awards?

Yes.  We may make partial awards.  This will depend on application eligibility, proposed use of funds, and availability of funds.

Q30/44. How long will I have to complete my project if I am awarded funds?

All funds must be expended on approved project expenses by December 31, 2023.

Q31.  I don’t agree with the decision the reviewers made about my application.  How can I appeal their decision?

Please contact the Dept of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry for a full overview of the appeals process: Agricultural Development Grant: Agricultural Resource Development Division: Maine DACF

Q32. Do I need to include part time and seasonal employees in my employee count?

No. We are only counting full time employees. The maximum number of full-time employees is fewer than 200. Employee count includes parent companies and subsidiaries, and all full-time employees across all geographies in which the business operates.

Q33. Are there resources to help with the grant process?

Yes. MOFGA is offering a workshop on grant writing: https://www.mofga.org/event-calendar/grant-writing-for-farmers/

Both SCORE and the SBDC offer one-on-one advising:
Portland | SCORE
Maine Small Business Advising & Training | Maine SBDC

CEI will be offering Office Hours, and you can register for those here: Agricultural Infrastructure Investment Program (AIIP) | CEI (ceimaine.org).

Please note that office hours are open-forum sessions and we will not schedule private sessions with individual businesses.

We can assist in arranging interpreter services and help with filling out the application if you don’t have a computer.

Contractor labor is eligible.  You cannot use AIIP funds to pay for staff and owners to compete construction or infrastructure improvements. 

Q35. How do you define ‘agricultural inputs sourced from Maine growers/producers’?

A priority of the AIIP grant is to support and increase Maine’s agricultural production capacity by investing in food processors that are sourcing Maine grown and raised inputs.  Specifically, inputs refers to vegetables, meats, grains, fruits and dairy or other products grown and/or raised in Maine.  Please see Program Guidelines for more details on eligible use of funds.

Q36. I am a farm: Where is the line between a ‘farm’ and a ‘processor’?

Please see the Program Guidelines for the definitions for Farm, Processor, and Processed Food.

Q37. Will you prioritize large requests over smaller requests?

Size of request has no bearing on the award decision, however larger requests may be subject to additional information requests. 

Q38. Is the 2,500-character count a requirement or a suggestion?

The 2,500 character count is the maximum number of characters that the application will allow for that question. It is not required that you use all 2,500 characters.

Q39. Do beverage producers (of both alcohol or non-alcohol) qualify if they use Maine farm ingredients?

Value-add producers are eligible so long as a portion of their agricultural inputs are grown/raised in Maine in accordance with the Program Guidelines.

Q40. Is a compost business eligible to apply?

Composting businesses are not eligible. Please see the Program Guidelines for details.

Q41. Can a business submit more than one application?

No.   The limit is one application per business.  In addition, please see the language on Affiliated Businesses in the Program Guidelines.

Q42. Will there be reporting requirements and/or auditing of the grant?

Yes.  Details will be forthcoming.

Q43. Is website design and construction and eligible use of funds?

No.  AIIP grant funds can be used to pay for technology that directly improve and enable processing activities on the farm or processor.  Please see the eligible list of expenses in the Program Guidelines

Q45. Do I have to demonstrate a revenue loss due to COVID-19 to be eligible for this AIIP grant?

No.

Q46. Are farms that lease their property eligible for this grant?

Yes.  Farms that lease property are eligible, but grant funds cannot be used for lease payments.

Q47. Are renewable energy technologies eligible?

Renewable energy technologies and associated hardware and equipment that are directly incorporated into applicant facilities and provide power central to those operations are eligible. AIIP funding cannot be used for developing solar arrays on agricultural lands comprised of prime farmland soils or soils of statewide importance, nor can it be used for renewable energy technologies that do not directly enhance a farm or businesses’ processing capacity. 

Q48. Are greenhouses eligible?

Season-extension technologies, including greenhouses, associated equipment, and installation costs, are eligible. Preference will be given to structures constructed from durable materials, such as polycarbonate, glass panels, and/or plastic sheeting or paneling with an expected lifespan of 8 years or more. Any season-extending technologies must directly increase production and processing capacity among farmers and agricultural businesses.

Q49.  Can I use ARPA money to pay for rented or leased equipment?  And/or, can I use ARPA money for the deposit on equipment that I then rent or lease? 

No. AIIP funds cannot be used to pay for rental or lease of equipment, or the down payment or deposit for equipment that will be rented or leased.  

Q50. I lease my land or building.  Am I eligible for this program?

A. You are eligible if you lease or rent your farmland or facility.  Funds cannot be used to make lease or rental payments.  You can use funds for leasehold improvements so long as they are connected to your proposed farming and/or processing project.

Q51. Are cash or in-kind match contributions required for this program?

A. There is no match required and no minimum request amount for this program.