USDA Invests Nearly $1.4 Million for 17 Nebraska Value-Added Projects

Vicki Schurman
Release Date
Oct 27, 2016

USDA Rural Development Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul announces that USDA is investing in 17 projects throughout Nebraska providing nearly $1.4 million through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.

"Investing in value-added projects helps agricultural producers with the processing and/or marketing of bio-based value-added products.  Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the goals of this program,” said Moul.  “The value-added program facilitates keeping products local which impacts Nebraska’s economy.”

Nebraska Value-Added Recipients:

BUTLER COUNTY - Wendy McKenzie - $40,579 - To support the processing and marketing of goat cheese. 

CLAY COUNTY - Six Bar S Ranch Premium Meats, Inc. - $250,000 - To help pay operational costs directly related to processing and marketing of value added meat products, including custom processing, packaging and private labeling.

CUSTER COUNTY - Sandhills Honey Bottling Company, LLC - $49,500 - To expand the market of bottled honey, from central Nebraska to statewide. 

HALL COUNTY - Nebraska Mushroom, LLC - $154,852 - To complete market expansion for packaged mushrooms to be sold to the end user.

HOWARD COUNTY - 22 Eagle Ranch, LLC - $48,000 - To develop a feasibility study to determine the feasibility of establishing a distillery that processes farm raised grains to whiskey or vodka.

KEITH COUNTY - Lazy K Eggs, LLC - $3,607 - To expand the marketing and sales of poultry eggs and expand the customer base throughout Nebraska.

LANCASTER COUNTY - Lakehouse Farm, LLC - $75,000 - To provide a strategic plan to increase regional networking of producers, end-users and consumers, and create a joint steering committee which will be tasked with exploring the development of a Regional Food Hub.

LANCASTER COUNTY - Robinette Farms, LLC - $24,834 - To process, expand the market area and distribute micro-greens, eggs from pastured hens and pastured boiler chickens.

MERRICK COUNTY - Nicholas Ryan - $48,996 - To process and market wine, including developing materials for packaging, labeling, and marketing. 

NEMAHA COUNTY - Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard and Winery, LLC - $213,350 - To expand value-added marketing activities related to the processing of grapes into wine.

PERKINS COUNTY - Agriforce Products, LLC - $29,238 - To develop a feasibility study to determine the market to produce a gluten free, high-quality protein powder used in health and nutrition products.

PHELPS COUNTY - Schwarz Family Farm, LLC - $15,500 - To develop a feasibility study for making and marketing a salsa from leftover produce from the farm.

PLATTE COUNTY - Annette Hellbusch - $32,000 - To market and distribute vegetables and help cover rental expense for an indoor farmers' market.

POLK COUNTY - Dennis Nuttelman - $250,000 - To provide capital to process and market Omega 3 pork.

SARPY COUNTY - Volcanic Peppers, LLC - $49,996 - To assist in the processing and marketing of hot pepper sauces.

SAUNDERS COUNTY - Heartland Nuts N’ More - $49,999 - To implement a marketing plan to provide a central market for member producers to sell their high-quality nut oil from cultivar tree nuts. 

WAYNE COUNTY - Eltee Mangalitsa’s, LLC - $49,950 - To process and market Magalitsa pork.

VAPG grants can be used to develop new product lines from raw agricultural products or promote additional uses for established products. Veterans, socially-disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches, and farmer and rancher cooperatives are given special priority.

USDA has awarded 1,442 VAPG awards since 2009, totaling $183.2 million. Congress increased funding for the program in the 2014 Farm Bill. The grants are a key element of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which coordinates the Department's work on local and regional food systems. Secretary Vilsack has identified local and regional food systems as a key component of rural economic development.

Today’s funding builds on USDA’s historic investments in rural America over the past seven years. USDA has worked to strengthen and support rural communities and American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials.

Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (@USDARD) has invested nearly $13 billion to start or expand nearly 112,000 rural businesses; and invested $38.2 billion in 1,057 electric projects that have financed more than 198,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines serving 4.6 million rural residents. USDA also helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 9,200 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses. For more information, visit

To read more about USDA’s investments in rural America and its successful turnaround, visit USDA's entry on, Rural America Is Back in Business.