USDA Regional Food Business Centers Program

Information on Indirect Cost Rate in Regional Food Business Centers Request for Applications

Updated 12/7/2022 – The RFA will be updated to allow nonprofit organizations including universities that have a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA) to use that rate. The RFA, Narrative Form, Narrative Guide, Program Specific Terms and Conditions and FAQ will be updated soon to reflect this change.

The RFA deadline will be extended to allow applicants to adjust proposals accordingly.  Deadline date coming soon.

Office Hours are held every Wednesday at 4:00pm ET. Register for office hours.

The USDA Regional Food Business Centers will support a more resilient, diverse, and competitive food system.  These Regional Food Centers will support producers by providing localized assistance to access local and regional supply chains, including linking producers to wholesalers and distributors. They will provide technical assistance needed to access new markets, access to federal, state, and local resources, and will assist small- and mid-sized producers in overcoming barriers to market access, with a focus on underserved farmers, ranchers, and food businesses.  No match is required. 

USDA Regional Food Business Centers will have three main responsibilities:

  • Coordination - The Regional Food Centers will act as regional hubs coordinating across geographic areas with USDA, other federal, state, and tribal agencies with relevant resources, regional commissions, stakeholders, and the other Regional Food Centers. They will engage with stakeholders and partners to develop and implement strategic and funding plans for serving the region through technical assistance and capacity building. They will conduct outreach to underserved communities and businesses.
  • Technical Assistance - The Regional Food Centers will provide direct business technical assistance to small- and mid-sized food and farm businesses (producers, processors, aggregators, distributors, and other businesses within the food supply chain) and food value and supply chain coordination. Each Regional Food Center will identify priority areas for technical assistance (e.g., aggregation/distribution, specialty crop processing for institutions) for the region it plans to serve.
  • Capacity Building – The Regional Food Centers will provide financial assistance through business builder subawards up to $100,000 to support projects focused on regional needs and businesses that are working towards expansion and other investment. These subawards may support staff time, business planning activities, software implementation, the purchase of special purpose equipment, such as food safety, processing and packaging equipment, and value chain coordination, and other expenses associated as outlined in the RFA.

If you have questions after reviewing the RFA, contact us at RegionalFoodCenters@usda.gov

Additional Information

This graphic shows general information for the regional food business centers cooperative agreement. There will be at least six funded centers with a funding range of fifteen to fifty million dollars. The award duration is 60 months. There are four geographic priority areas and USDA plans to select a center that serves all or part of each area. These are colonias, Delta and the southeast, Appalachia, and a National Tribal Center. The Centers will reach all or part of at least three states or a 400 mile radius. Applications including locations outside of the contiguous US may propose a region serving non-contiguous areas of the US or territories.

Graphic showing the definitions of four key Regional Business Center terms, lead applicant, key partners, project team, and collaborators. The Lead Applicant is the one eligible non-federal entity (NFE) within the group of Key Partners that bears the ultimate financial and programmatic responsibility for the cooperative agreement.  Key partners are a minimum of three eligible non-federal entities that share in the  planning, management, and implementation of the Center. Key Partners must come from at least two different entity types (see RFA), and must all be located in, and have a history of serving, the geographic region the Center will serve.  Key Partners must provide letters of commitment and sign a MOU. The project team is composed of staff from the Key Partner organizations and is the group of individuals who collectively manage the financial and operational decisions of the Regional Food Business Centers. Resumes and personnel costs for members of the project team are required. Collaborators are organizations who provide distinct services to the Centers but do not have a role in overall planning, management and implementation of the Center itself. These organizations should provide letters of support outlining services they will provide to the Center and the estimated cost of those services. Resumes for Collaborator staff are not required.