Research Topic

U.S. Department of Agriculture


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides economic opportunity through innovation that helps rural America thrive and promotes agriculture production that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world. Additionally, the USDA preserves the nation's natural resources through conservation, restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.



ezFedGrants is the USDA system that allows individuals to apply for and manage USDA grants and agreements online. It’s also USDA’s OMB Circular A-123 system of record for processing Federal financial assistance transactions.

ezFedGrants (Launch Page)

Agency Specific Guidance


The NIFA Application Guide provides guidance for the preparation and submission of NIFA grant applications via the system. This guide provides general information and references pertaining to the grant application process as well as NIFA-specific instructions and requirements. When applying for a NIFA award, it is important to reference the version of the guide that is included in the specific funding opportunity application package.

USDA NIFA Application Guide

The Farm Bill

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the Farm Bill) was signed into law on December 21, 2018. A new USDA-NIFA process was developed and a corresponding budget template was created in light of the agency’s current interpretation of the 2018 Farm Bill (i.e. the 30% legislative cap).

Indirect costs for the entire project (prime recipient and all subawardees) must be the lesser of 30% of total project costs or the negotiated indirect cost rate(s). In order to reduce the administrative burden to comply, including the need to negotiate indirect rates with subrecipients, Illinois has chosen not to assess F&A costs on any portion of subrecipient costs.

This new USDA NIFA budget template exempts subrecipient costs for both budget scenarios, that is, when the Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA) rate is less than the Sponsor Limited rate and when the Sponsor Limited rate is less than the Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA) rate. NOTE: The separate USDA-APHIS budget template is consistent with the previous process, that is, the first $25,000 of subrecipient costs will be assessed F&A on an MTDC basis and the entire amount will be assessed on the capped (TDC+) basis.

To justify the indirect cost rate used, please include one of the following statements in your budget justifications:

  • If the Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA) rate is less, then: Indirect (F&A) costs are assessed at xx.x% of Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC) in accordance with the applicable NICRA Rate and less all subrecipient costs, which is less than 30% of the Total Federal Funded Awarded (TFFA).
  • If 30% of the Total Federal Funded Awarded (TFFA) is less, then: Indirect (F&A) costs are assessed at 42.857% Total Direct Costs (TDC) in accordance with 30% of the Total Federal Funded Awarded (TFFA).


As the National Institute of Food and Agriculture's flagship competitive grants program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) solicits applications from scientists each year. The application process offers funding for single-function and integrated agricultural research, education, and extension efforts that address key problems of local, regional, national, and global importance in sustaining conventional and organic food and agriculture systems.

AFRI is a subdivision of NIFA. Applicants to AFRI are required to adhere to both NIFA and AFRI guidelines. When there is a discrepancy between the two, AFRI guidance takes precedence. Please note the specific naming conventions specified for attachments within each RFA.

AFRI Request for Applications

RFA Resources Page


Notes for ARS "Acquisition of Goods and Services" Agreements
  • The "Agency Principal Investigator" on the award document will be a USDA employee.
  • The "Non-Federal Entity/Federal Agency Principal Investigator" will be the University of Illinois faculty member serving as point of contact for the award. The individual named is at the discretion of the managing unit (ex: a unit may select their department head). Whoever is named in this role should be listed as PI in the personnel section of the proposal transmittal.
  • The Indirect Cost Rate on Acquisition of Goods and Services agreements is limited by the sponsor to 10% of total direct costs.


An ezFedGrants account allows PIs to apply for and manage USDA grants and agreements online. It’s USDA’s OMB Circular A-123 system of record for processing Federal financial assistance transactions. It provides significant efficiencies to all users managing grant and agreement portfolios. It also helps to ensure compliance with federal accounting and grant-related requirements. View the video below to learn more about ezFedGrants.

ezFedGrants Benefits

  • Provides a robust self-service portal with 24/7 access to agreement records
  • Allows applicants to conveniently search and apply online for non-competitive funding opportunities, such as cooperative and cost-reimbursable agreements
  • Interfaces with to bring in competitive grant applications
  • Increases efficiency with a streamlined application review process
  • Enhances visibility of award details for the customers
  • Integrates the award record with your organization’s Treasury’s ASAP account
  • Increases efficiency, speed, and visibility for SF 270 and ASAP invoice payments
  • Standardizes business processes across grant management agencies and programs
  • Increases compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements
  • Ability to integrate with core financial systems, such as SAP, Oracle, and Momentum


 Job Aid - Submit a Proposal via ezFedGrants

 Job Aid - Submit a Performance Report via ezFedGrants



Related Documents and Resources

Revised Date