Nebraska Rural Businesses Capture More than $680,000 in Federal Grants

Eight Nebraska rural businesses will receive over $680,000 combined in Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG). USDA announced grant recipients last month – 162 in all, from 40 states and Puerto Rico.

The total amount awarded nationally was $22.7 million. At over $3 million, Wisconsin received the most, with 15 recipients. Alaska was lowest, with one recipient receiving $31,500.

Steve MacGregor, a Plainview resident, saw the opportunity for an ag enterprise, Nebraska Farm Raised Trout, when he noticed that trout aren’t farmed on the same scale as other local varieties such as bluegill, catfish, and perch.

After extensive research, Steve decided to use materials from old grain bins that he tore down to form holding tanks for raising trout. Experimenting with several hundred trout and doing lab testing convinced him that this could be a viable enterprise.

Steve’s intention is to sell the trout locally to restaurants as well as larger regional chains that may have a demand for local and fresh produce. He pursued the grant to help him see if these markets are available.

Mike Heavrin, Cooperative Development Manager at the Center for Rural Affairs and reviewer of federal grant applications, was instrumental in assisting four of the Nebraska grant recipients in the application process, including MacGregor. “Steve MacGregor has taken a look at what possibilities are available and applied the technology to form a new value-added venture that he can capitalize on,” said Heavrin.

The Center for Rural Affairs is one of the few organizations that assist people in attaining Value Added Producer Grants. The grants are targeted at entrepreneurial, value-added agricultural ventures like Nebraska Farm Raised Trout.

Other Nebraska businesses receiving grant monies include a winery, specialty grains business, a farm to grow and market pickled asparagus and other value added produce, a free range organic poultry business, an operation to raise and supply game birds, and a plant-based skin care products line.

For more information and a complete list of grant recipients across the nation, visit USDA’s website at

Contact: Mike Heavrin, 402.687.2103 x 1008 or for more information.

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