You Should Apply to the Pandemic Response and Safety (PRS) Grant Program

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By Atticus Graven

Oct 13, 2021

The AMS’s new Pandemic Response and Safety (PRS) grant program provides up to $20,000 in funding to cover costs of adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, including safety equipment and online sales infrastructure.

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS/USDA) just opened applications to a new grant program that will help small and medium sized food businesses adapt their operations to protect the health of their employees and remain connected to their customers. Eligibility is generally open to food-related businesses with less than $5 million in average annual revenue and with less than 500 full-time employees. Click below to see the program details in Ambrook’s Funding Library for more information on eligibility:

Cover photo for Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program

Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program

Agricultural Marketing Service · Closed Indefinitely

  • Grant
  • Nutrition & Food Safety
  • Disaster Relief
  • Distribution
  • Marketing
  • Farmers Market
  • Connectivity
  • Technical Assistance
  • Public Health
  • National
  • Any

This program is open for applications now and will close at 11:59 p.m. ET on November 22, 2021. Applicants can apply for a maximum of $20,000 to cover eligible expenses.

How to Apply

It is free to apply to this program. The application is short and easy, and you can apply in these three steps:

  1. Get a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number for your business

  2. Document your expenses and intended expenses, making sure to have receipts or other documentation for the past expenses

  3. Fill out the two-page online application on the USDA’s website before 11:59 p.m. ET on November 22, 2021

Step 1: Get a DUNS Number

A DUNS number is used by the USDA and other institutions to track a business across different programs; your business may already have a DUNS number if you have previously applied for certain other federal aid or loans. In any case, you can check if you have a DUNS number or get a new one by going to this website or calling (866) 705-5711. It is free to get a DUNS number and requires minimal documentation. This quick start guide has more information on the DUNS process. If you are awarded the grant, you will need to link your DUNS number to a account. This is not necessary just to submit an application.

Ambrook recommends you start the process of getting a DUNS number immediately as it can take 5 to 10 business days to receive one.

Step 2: Document Eligible Expenses

The PRS program allows for a broad swath of expenses related to adapting your business to safely and effectively operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible expenses include direct pandemic-related costs like the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and indirect pandemic-related costs like the development of an online sales platform to safely continue business while social distancing. You can include two types of pandemic-related costs:

  1. Costs already incurred since January 27, 2020

  2. Anticipated costs expected to be incurred before December 31, 2021

All expenses already incurred must be corroborated by receipts or other documentation. For planned expenses, be sure to keep all related receipts and invoices as the AMS may ask to review them even after awarding the grant.

The second page of the application asks you to complete this table of expenses:

To assist you in adding up these expenses, we created a workbook with some common expenses you may have incurred or plan to incur. Download it here as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or make an online copy here in Google Sheets. If you fill out this workbook with your planned and incurred expenses, the sheet will add the totals up for you and you can enter those totals directly into the application.

For example, see the sample table below. Did your business invest in a new online platform to safely serve your customers during the pandemic? Do you want to? Those costs can be very expensive and are eligible for a grant from this program.

If you methodically consider the 6 categories above, it’s likely you’ll find eligible expenses of at least the minimum grant amount of $1,500. You may even find you have expenses that add up to the maximum requested grant amount of $20,000.

Step 3: Fill out the Application

Fill out the two-page online application on the USDA’s website before 11:59 p.m. ET on November 22, 2021.

The last potentially confusing part of the application is selecting the appropriate “Eligible Industry” from the drop down list. We suggest you peruse the options (go to this census link for more information on each), and choose the one that most closely describes your operation.

Special note for livestock producers: Common livestock like cattle, hogs and poultry are not included under the eligible animal production industry categories. You may want to check under the food processing industries to see if your business qualifies. For example, poultry producers that process onsite may qualify under the category “Poultry processing.”

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Atticus Graven

Atticus has a Masters in Agricultural and Resource Economics from UC Davis. Prior to joining Ambrook, he spent 6 years with The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission teasing out intent and incentives from transactional data in the US organized energy markets. Now, Atticus has returned to his true passion—supporting farmers to feed the world in a sustainable, non-exploitative way that reconnects us all to the food we eat. Follow him on Twitter @AtticusGraven.

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