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

Release Date: 



Mike Heavrin, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1008
Lyons, Nebraska –It was announced last week that eight Nebraska rural businesses were selected to receive over $680,000 combined in Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG). There were 162 recipients in all, from 40 states and Puerto Rico who received grants.
Steve MacGregor, a Plainview resident, is the business’s proprietor. He saw the opportunity for Nebraska Farm Raised Trout when he noticed that trout aren’t farmed on the scale that other local varieties such as bluegill, catfish and perch are.

After extensive research, MacGregor decided to use materials from old grain bins that he tore down to form holding tanks for raising trout.  After experimenting with several hundred trout and doing lab testing, he was convinced that this could be a viable enterprise for value-added agriculture and he pursued the grant to help him see if there would be a market available.
MacGregor's intention is sell the trout locally to area restaurants as well as larger regional chains that may have a demand for local and fresh produce.
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.

Nebraska Farm Raised Trout located outside of Plainview, NE received funds for a feasibility study, business plan, and marketing plan to create an aquaculture project in Pierce County.

According to Michael Holton, the Center’s Director of the Rural Opportunity and Stewardship Program, 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.  Agricultural producers, businesses owned by producers and organizations representing agricultural producers for business planning or working capital expenses associated with marketing a value-added agricultural product are eligible to apply. Agricultural producers include farmers, ranchers, loggers, agricultural harvesters and fishermen that engage in the production or harvesting of an agricultural commodity.
Other Nebraska businesses receiving grant monies include a winery, specialty grains business, a farm to produce 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.

The total amount awarded nationally was $22.7 million. At over $3 million, Wisconsin received the most in grant funds with 15 recipients. Receiving the least amount of money was Alaska with one recipient receiving $31,500.

For more information and a complete list of grant recipients visit the USDA’s web site  Or contact Mike Heavrin at (402) 687-2103 ext 1008,

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