The USDA in one of the twelve federal departments that participates in the SBIR program. Under the program, USDA focuses on innovations that support high quality research related to important scientific problems and opportunities in food and agriculture technologies that could lead to significant public benefits. USDA is also the only agency that allows for “Commercial Off the Shelf” (COTS) technologies under two of their special topics, Small and Mid-Size Farms and Rural and Community Development. To find out more about this distinction, contact NM FAST staff.



USDA carries no additional requirements for SBIR eligibility beyond the SBA requirements. To submit a proposal package though, small businesses must register with grants.gov. You can find out more about this process via our YouTube video on registration requirements. 

Mechanics of the Program

Under the SBIR program, USDA will fund Phase I projects that are designed to determine the scientific feasibility of ideas with commercial potential. Phase I funding is limited to $100,000 for 8 months of work, and if the project is successful, you can apply for Phase II funding. Phase II project funding is limited to $600,000 for 24 months of work, and is largely designed to take the results of the Phase I and create a prototype project. For USDA, Phase II is a research and development phase, with scale-up of the innovation, that provides a positive return on investment. 

Additional Funding

Though USDA does not have “direct” follow-on funding opportunities for the SBIR program, awardees are strongly encouraged to use NIFA-funded basic research programs to enhance innovation and competitiveness in their commercial operations. These include the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, which advances research, education, and extension activities to address key problems of national and regional importance, the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, which is a joint effort with the Department of Energy to support R&D in advanced biofuels, bioenergy, and high-value biobased products, and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program, which supports projects to enhance knowledge about – and help farmers and ranchers adopt – practices that are profitable, environmentally sound, and good to communities.

To find out more about these programs head to the NIFA RFA list at https://nifa.usda.gov/rfa-list 



For a full listing of agency resources and NM FAST resources, relevant to an SBIR submission to USDA, please visit this link: