Add More to Value Added

On October 19th at least 48 requests for the Value Added Grant Program were submitted to the Nebraska Rural Development Commission resulting in a grand total of $2.5 million in requested funding. Unfortunately only $800,000 will be awarded this round.
The grants are for Nebraskans who want to start or expand a value-added agricultural enterprise.  The popularity of the Nebraska value-added grants is a testament to the need for helping farmers and ranchers access premium markets with new strategies that help farmers and ranchers capture a greater share of the food dollar.  Such value-added ventures can also help address economic decline and poverty in rural areas by enhancing rural economic development, and creating new employment opportunities.

For this grant program, “value-added” means changing the physical state of the product such as turning grapes into wine. Last year one of the grant recipients was the Nebraska Syriaca Cooperative which produces Syriaca (milkweed) oil from Syriaca pods grown and harvested by farmers.

There are many other niche markets that have yet to be tapped, but with out adequate resources, many producers can not get these ideas off the ground.

With over $2.5 million in requests this year and only $800,000 in available grant funds it is clear that the demand for this program is far outstripping available resources.  We encourage the Legislature to work diligently to increase the funding for these grants so that more Nebraska entrepreneurs and communities can benefit.

 

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