Agricultural Infrastructure Investment Program (AIIP) – Program Guidelines & Eligibility

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.

Agricultural Infrastructure Investment Program (AIIP)

Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry

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

Program Guidelines & Eligibility

  1. Overview
  2. Grant Funding Categories
  3. General Eligibility
  4. Eligible Uses
  5. Additional Requirements & Information

Download these guidelines (PDF)

1. Overview

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry (DACF) has allocated approximately $20MM in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for the new Agricultural Infrastructure Investment Program (AIIP).

The AIIP will provide critical funding for Maine farms and agricultural food processors pursuing infrastructure upgrades that will mitigate the adverse effects of COVID-19, increase capacity, enhance supply chain resilience, address market disruptions, and drive growth within the Maine agricultural and food economy while providing more locally-available foods to Mainers.

This funding will help farms and processors who source from Maine’s agricultural producers acquire the equipment and assets necessary to grow capacity in a manner that meets the markedly increased demand for Maine grown and produced products as well as the new operational requirements resulting from pandemic conditions.

Funding will be administered through a competitive process that awards grants to eligible projects that align with the goals of the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, specifically, supporting the growth and sustainability of farms and farm families, increasing the supply of local, Maine-produced, and processed foods to meet state food consumption goals, and enhancing Maine’s agricultural exports while reducing the state’s reliance on food imports. Grant funding will have an immediate impact across the sector by improving the financial health of eligible individual farms and businesses and enabling much-needed capital projects across farm and food businesses of multiple scales.

The two primary goals of the AIIP are as follows:

  1. To provide an injection of critical funding for Maine farms and agricultural food processing businesses that have faced and continue to face market disruptions, supply chain issues, and workforce challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related public health response. Specifically, this funding will support projects that allow farms and businesses to increase production and processing capacity by investing in infrastructure and equipment; and
  2. To make investments in Maine agricultural processors that aid transitions to address new market dynamics and enable long-term sustainability in the sector.

2. Grant Funding Categories

The AIIP will offer grants to farms and food processors to support near-term investments in agricultural infrastructure that help address capacity challenges driven or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Note: Aquaculture is not eligible for this grant, for funding opportunities related to fisheries and aquaculture, please review the Department of Marine Resources website.

Farm Grants

Farms with production and on-site processing activities and farms that supply food processors with their farm-grown/raised products are all eligible for grants of up to $250,000 to support near term investments in infrastructure and TA that build production capacity and help address market and supply chain challenges driven or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  There is no match required and no minimum request amount.

Approximately 50% of available funds will be dedicated to Farm Grants. This amount is subject to adjustment based on demand.

Processing Grants

Maine processing businesses that source a significant proportion of agricultural inputs from Maine farms are eligible for grants of up to $500,000 to support high-impact near term investments in infrastructure and TA that help address market and supply chain challenges driven or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and contribute to more sustainable, resilient local processing. High-impact projects are defined as those having broad and long-lasting positive effects on the Maine food supply and agriculture sector. There is no match requirement.

Approximately 50% of available funds will be dedicated to Processor Grants. This amount is subject to adjustment based on demand.

3. General Eligibility

Funds are available to support infrastructure investments in farms, on-farm processing, and off-farm agricultural food processing located in Maine. Operations primarily focused on processing food (i.e., products intended for human consumption) will be prioritized.

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.

  • 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.

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

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

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 purposes of the AIIP means processing agricultural products grown and raised in the state of Maine.

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 farm or an agricultural food processing 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.

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 involve Maine-raised or grown products.

Priority will be given to applications that satisfy any combination of the following:

  • Process products intended for human consumption;
  • Source from multiple Maine farms;
  • Source more than 50% of product inputs from Maine’s agricultural producers or growers; 
  • Provide processed agricultural products for multiple down-stream food value-added producers; 
  • Support other Maine agricultural businesses by sharing processing infrastructure.

To be eligible for this funding opportunity, applicants must:

  • Be a farm or agricultural business or organization with fewer than 200 full-time employees (including parent company and subsidiaries, and across all geographies where the company operates);
  • Be located in Maine;
  • Be current and in good standing with all Maine State payroll taxes, sales taxes, and state income taxes (as applicable);
  • Not be in bankruptcy; and
  • Not have permanently ceased all operations.

Other eligibility details:

  • Businesses will be liable for any misuse of funds.
  • Grants are taxable income and subject to audit.
  • Each eligible operation is limited to one application.
  • A group of affiliated entities should only submit one grant application per group. Businesses must coordinate with other affiliated entities prior to submitting an application. For the purposes of the AIIP, a business or organization is considered affiliated with any other business or organization that:
    • has the same Federal Taxpayer Identification Number (including Social Security Number);
    • has the same corporate parent or grandparent;
    • is majority-owned (more than 50%) by the same owner or group of owners; or
    • for non-profits, is a subsidiary of a “parent” organization.
  • Entities that have received other ARPA federal funding are eligible so long as the funding was used for a different expense that that applied for in this AIIP.  
  • Startups (including pre-revenue companies) created in response to the impacts of COVID-19 are eligible.
  • Applicants can be a cooperative farm, non-profit, sole proprietor, LLC, L3C, or corporation.
  • This program does not cover standalone aggregators, distributors, or retailers of Maine agricultural products.
  • Restaurants are not eligible.
  • Incubation, acceleration, innovation, cohort-based education operations, trade associations, and commodity groups are not eligible.
  • This program is not intended to provide funding for commercial fisheries, seafood processors or dealers, or aquaculture. Please see the Department of Marine Resources for marine sector opportunities.

4. Eligible Uses

Eligible Activities & Expenses:

  • Capital improvements to expand capacity (including expansion and modifications to existing buildings and/or construction of new buildings at existing or newly acquired sites) for the purpose of processing, aggregating, storing, and value-adding Maine agricultural products.
  • Upgrades to utilities (including water, electric, heat, refrigeration, freezing, and waste facilities).
  • Livestock intake and storage equipment.
  • Growing, processing, manufacturing, and storage equipment and construction.
  • Packaging and handling equipment (including sealing, bagging, boxing, labeling, conveying, and product moving equipment).
  • Additional warehouse equipment (including storage and drying/curing racks).
  • Purchase of waste treatment/management equipment (including tanks, blowers, separators, dryers, digesters, and equipment that uses waste to produce energy, fuel, or industrial products).
  • Facility reconfiguration (including contract labor and materials for changes necessary to meet social distancing guidelines).
  • Technology that allows increased capacity (to meet unanticipated demand) or business resilience (including software and hardware related to business functions, logistics, inventory management, plant production controls, temperature monitoring controls)
  • Consulting, and Technical Assistance (TA), including market research and feasibility studies, engineering and construction planning, land use planning, facility design and configuration planning, and other services that directly support future implementation of infrastructure-related capacity-building projects.
  • Leasehold improvements to rented buildings or facilities.
  • 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. 
  • 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.

Ineligible Activities & Expenses:

  • Funds cannot be used for entities engaged in illegal activity under federal or state law or regulation.
  • Funds cannot be used to reimburse expenses or infrastructure investments made prior to the date of AIIP award notification.
  • Ineligible expenses may include those expenses that have been or will be reimbursed under any federal, state, or local government funding.
  • Expenses that have been or will be reimbursed by insurance.
  • Expenses related to retail, tasting rooms, or restaurant operations are not eligible.
  • Inventory, including livestock and dairy cows, soil amendments, and other field inputs, is not eligible.
  • Working capital expenses (i.e., cash for daily business operations).
  • Land or real estate acquisition and lease.
  • Equipment rental or lease payments; deposits on rented or leased equipment.    
  • Hazard pay (for employees in facilities with COVID-19 positive cases).
  • Wages (non-hazard labor, non-reconfiguration labor, benefits, other wage-related pay).
  • Funds cannot be used to reimburse expenses or infrastructure investments made prior to the date of AIIP award notification. 

5. Additional Requirements & Information

  1. DACF reserves the right to amend the program guidelines, eligibility, and review process at any point.
  2. Grant recipients will be required to return unspent funds. DACF reserves the right to request funds in whole or in part if determined that the funds were not used for the intended purpose, as described in the application (or through a formal amendment to the project with DACF).
  3. DACF reserves the right to inspect and audit the project site following the payment received by the applicant for a period of up to three years following program completion.
  4. Applicants who commit fraud or misrepresentation, or who do not adequately document or retain sufficient documentation, shall be subject to state and federal civil and criminal recourse to the extent permitted by law.
  5. The applicant must retain records relating to the grant for a period of at least five years from the date of the final reimbursement payment received by the applicant for this grant. The applicant must agree that such records will be submitted to DACF or its designees or representatives upon request or upon audit of the completed project by DACF or other authorized state or federal authorities.
  6. In awarding funds under this program, DACF may coordinate with other agencies or entities deemed necessary.

Download these guidelines as a PDF