Frequently Asked Questions
A competitive grant is a type of financial award for specific projects, programs, or initiatives. Competitive grants require applicants to submit applications that are evaluated by a set of scoring criteria, which are always provided in our grant program’s Request for Applications (RFA). Grants are typically awarded to the most impactful proposals, making the process competitive in nature.
NE-DBIC grant funds are distributed over three payments throughout the course of the grant project. We do not reimburse for costs that have been incurred before the notification of award. The initial payment (40%-60% of the total grant, depending on the program), will be paid to the grantee upon receipt of awardee paperwork and a claim submission in WebGrants. The second payment will be issued upon approval of grantee’s interim performance report by the grant manager and receipt of a claim in WebGrants. The final payment is paid upon approval of the grantee’s final performance report and receipt of a claim in WebGrants.
Yes! Sheep, goats, and other dairy such as water buffalo are covered under NE-DBIC grant programs if products are meant for human consumption.
Alteration to raw milk, including pasteurization, for the purpose of human consumption is considered value-added.
No, you are still eligible to apply. We have multiple grantees with multiple awarded grants. However, if an applicant is submitting a proposal for another round of a grant program for which they have already been awarded, these applications are not typically prioritized. If an applicant is submitting a proposal for a different grant program than the one they were previously awarded, we generally wait to start the second grant until there is documented progress on the first grant.
Applicants should explain in the application how the project they’re applying for relates to or builds on previous grants.
We do not fund exclusively raw fluid milk projects. However, if your business sells both raw fluid milk and manufactured products, grant funds can be used to support value-added products made with raw milk, such as raw milk cheese.
A Request for Applications (RFA) is a formal announcement to solicit grant funding proposals, in this case, from Northeast Dairy Businesses Innovation Center. RFA’s provide detailed information about the specific goals, objectives, and criteria of a funding opportunity. Each funding opportunity has its own RFA that outlines important dates, eligibility requirements, areas of interest, funding priorities, the full application questions, and evaluation criteria. It is important to read an RFA in its entirety to ensure that you understand the specific priorities of the funding program and so you know what we are looking for in grant proposals, to have the most successful application possible.
The business/organization that, if awarded, will receive the grant funds should apply under their own account in WebGrants. Technical assistance providers, grant writers, or others completing the application on behalf of the applicant should complete the application under the applicant’s WebGrants account, and not under their own account.
Fiscal agents may apply on behalf of an applicant under the account of the fiscal agent. If awarded, a fiscal agent will hold all responsibility for the grant including reporting, financial management, equipment disposition, and all other granting requirements.
Support is generally available during business hours: Monday–Friday, 7:45 AM to 4:30 PM ET. Assistance may not be available shortly before deadlines. Contact our Grants & Contracts Administrator, Rebecca Brockett Rebecca.Brockett@vermont.gov or (802) 636-7016 for technical assistance with WebGrants. If you have content-related questions about an application or want to discuss your project, reach out to your grant program manager.
In most cases, we cannot pay for projects that have started before you apply nor for expenses incurred outside of the grant period. You need to wait to start the project until after the grant is awarded. We do, however, allow pre-award costs beginning the date that the grantee is notified that they have been selected to receive funds. Talk with your grant manager about pre-award costs.
While the grant program manager can talk about project concepts as it relates to the allowable costs and alignment with the grant program, we cannot review or provide feedback about an application before it is submitted.
The grant review process is robust so if a decision has been made, you may not appeal a rejection, however, we can and do send compiled feedback from the review panel. You can also get in touch for feedback if not provided to you.
Different grant programs vary in competitiveness. Though we don’t have figures on success rates, it is advised to fully read the RFA for a program to see program funding priorities, eligible project costs, require supporting documentation, and scoring criteria. You can also work with a technical assistance provider. Please go to the Technical Assistance section to learn more.
A Grant Agreement is a legal document that outlines your project and the expectations you’ll need to meet in order to receive your funding. Once you’re notified that you have been awarded a grant through NE-DBIC, your grant manager begins to draft the grant agreement. Your grant manager will work with you to finalize your project scope, timeline, budget, reporting schedule, and payment schedule. Once your grant is under way, your Grant Agreement is available on WebGrants.
Your grant manager will check in with you throughout the course of your project but please tell them BEFORE you make any changes to your project. They will help you navigate any project changes and ensure that you are paying for eligible costs that can be covered by grant funds.
Application Review and Scoring:
Read the RFA in its entirety and get in touch if you have questions about project eligibility. In general, it is advised that applicants answer all parts of questions, connect their project to the RFA’s funding priorities, and write a proposal that is clear and that contains a reasonable workplan. Proposals don’t have to be particularly “fancy,” but they do need to adequately answer the questions and provide enough context on your business and proposed project as if the reviewer is not familiar with you already.
Applications are reviewed by a multi-state NE-DBIC advisory committee comprised of representatives from Northeast state agriculture agencies/departments, agriculture extension agencies, and dairy-industry stakeholders. A minimum of three reviewers are assigned to score each application. Funding decisions are made according to scoring, reviewer comments, past grant performance, and with consideration to diversity across geography, herd type, size of operation, and impacts beyond the grantee.
All projects must contribute 25% of the total grant request to be used to directly support the grant project. For instance, for a grant request of $40,000, the applicant must demonstrate at least $10,000 in match.
Matching funds may be contributed by the applicant or by another organization and can be a combination of cash and in-kind funds in any budget expense category including your own time, your staff’s time, equipment, supplies, travel, training, and project-related construction labor, and may cover costs ineligible for grant funds, such as construction. Match funds must be expended within the grant period. Reach out to NE-DBIC with specific questions about match eligibility.
Yes – if they are necessary to the implementation of the eligible project.
You can use money from another grant for your 25% match if it is not from federal funding or another grant program that has stipulations that it cannot be used as match. The grant would need to be state, local government, or privately funded.
No, since NE-DBIC funds are federal funds, they cannot be used as match for any other grant funds. :
In general, construction items (building materials, building labor, cement work, or well-drilling) are not allowed. However, if there is construction necessary to the implementation of the eligible project then these ineligible construction costs can be considered as part of your matching funds for the grant. Contact NE-DBIC staff with specific questions around this topic.
Technical assistance is professional assistance in business operations, including day-to-day management or adoption of new strategies, and can be inclusive of business management (e.g., financials, marketing), land management (e.g., agronomy, grazing), production management (e.g., farm systems improvements), and animal husbandry.
T.A.’s act as consultants, advisors, and subject matter experts for the project. T.A.’s can include a broad range of advisors such as a producer association, cooperative, processor, agricultural extension agents, business planners, small business development centers, research and academic institutions, agricultural consultants, veterinarians, conservation districts, NRCS staff, and any people who are subject matter experts who provide advice or specialized training for farmers and processors. If a project directly involves animal health, a veterinarian can be considered a T.A. provider.
Reach out to your local cooperative extension office, your state department of agriculture, or your milk processor field representative for suggestions.
In Vermont, this can be a helpful resource https://www.franklincountynrcd.org/agproducersguide