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There are a variety of direct and indirect grant opportunities available for the Nebraska agriculture industry at both the state and federal level. Projects that boost efficiencies, explore innovative solutions for problems such as increases in global food demand, and those that have an opportunity to grow Nebraska’s ag industry may be a good fit for some of the following grants.

For some of these state funded grant programs, the match could be less and there may be set-aside funds for value-added Ag projects. Other grant/investment programs offered by the state might fit the Ag industry project such as Nebraska Commercialization Program, InternNE, training grants, or the Nebraska Angel Investment Tax Credit, depending on your project and business.

Nebraska Department of Economic Development Grants

For these USDA grant opportunities and others such as the Local Food Promotion Program or indirect opportunities including training for new farmers or ranchers, contact your local USDA office:

Prototype Pre-Seed Grant

This grant funds development of proof-of-concept ideas for Nebraska businesses with less match funds required for value added agriculture businesses.

Amount Up to $50,000

Deadline Open cycle. Ask early in year before funding runs out.


Research and Development Grant

This is for companies to partner with a research    entity such as UNL to complete research for product development. Funding may be used for  applied research, new product development, or new uses of intellectual property already generated by a private or public college or university in Nebraska.

Amount $100,000 Phase I; $400,000 Phase II

Deadline Open cycle. Ask early in year before funding runs out. Website

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)

This grant funds 25% of the cost for renewable and energy efficiency improvements for Ag producers and rural small businesses.

Amount $2,500 - $500,000

Deadline April 30, 2015 Website

Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG)

Grants can be up to 50% of project costs for planning and working capital related to producing and marketing a value-added agricultural product.

Amount Up to $175,000 - $300,000

Deadline Expected to be announced for Spring of 2015


Sustainable agriculture and Research Education (SARE)

Rancher grants help fund Ag producers as they explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration and education projects.

Amount $7,500 - $22,500

Deadline Varies Website

USDA's Small Business Innovation and Research Phase I (SBIR)

This three-phase program provides funds to businesses to explore solutions for selected topics as proposed by the USDA, such as increasing food production or technology for more efficient water use. As a bonus, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development offers SBIR Phase 0 grants of up to $5,000 that can help offset the Phase I grant preparation expenses. And, if awarded, may provide a match to the SBIR grant.

Amount $100,000 for Phase I and up to $500,000 for Phase II

Deadline Expected to be released for a Fall 2015 Website

All of these funders want to see an increase in profitability in the Ag sector which will, in turn, boost our Nebraska economy.

1) Examine the specific grant guidelines through these resources.

2) Then contact the funder to see if your project would be a good fit for grant funding.

About the Author

Kris Vrooman
Innovative Grant Services

Kris is the owner of Innovative Grant Services and brings ten years of grant experience to the table. She enjoys working with businesses to turn their big ideas into fundable projects.

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