USDA Rural Development


Suite 308 Federal Building
100 Centennial Mall North
Lincoln, NE 68508
Phone: (402) 437-5551
Nebraska State Director: Karl Elmshaeuser

USDA Rural Development is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural Nebraska. We achieve our mission by helping rural individuals, communities and businesses obtain the financial and technical assistance needed to address their diverse and unique needs. Our financial programs can help build a rural community from the ground up through programs for housing, community facilities, water and sewer, business, telecommunications, cooperatives, energy, and value-added.

USDA Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program (REAP):
REAP is designed to increase energy efficiencies and stimulate the development of renewable energy systems in rural America. Eligible to apply are agricultural producers (must be actively engaged in ag production and 50 percent or more of gross income must be derived from ag operations) and rural small businesses (located in populations of 50,000 or less, meeting Small Business Size standards found at: Eligible for the Energy Audit/Renewable Energy Development Assistance program ONLY are units of State, Tribal or local government, land-grant colleges, universities, or institutions of higher education, rural electric cooperatives and public power entities.

Funds may be used to install renewable energy systems, make energy efficiency improvements within the business operation, complete a feasibility study for a renewable energy system, complete energy audits and provide renewable energy development assistance. Residential uses are not eligible.

Contact Jeff Carpenter, Energy Coordinator at 402-437-5554 or

Visit the Nebraska Rural Development web site at for additional information.

USDA Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grant Program:
The Value-Added Producer Grant program assists eligible producers of agricultural commodities, agricultural producer groups, farmer and rancher cooperatives and majority-owned producer- based business ventures to develop business plans for viable marketing opportunities and to develop strategies to create marketing opportunities in *emerging markets. *An emerging market is one that the applicant has not traditionally supplied. The venture may focus on a new market for an existing product, or a new product into an existing market. Independent producers, farmer or rancher cooperatives, agriculture producer groups, majority-controlled producer based business ventures-businesses where producers have 50 percent or greater ownership and control are eligible to apply.

Farmers and/or producers growing and marketing local foods are eligible to apply for VAPGs. A locally grown food is defined as sold within your state or within 400 miles of the growing site.

Five distinct activities are considered value-added. Producers' activities must fall within one of these four activities. 1) A change in the physical state or form of the product; 2) Differentiated production or marketing, as demonstrated through a business plan; 3) The physical segregation of an agricultural commodity or product in a manner that results in the enhancement of the value of that commodity or product; 4) Is a source of farm- or ranch-based renewable energy, including E-85 fuel; or (5) Is aggregated and marketed as a locally-produced agricultural food product.

Contact Brant Richardson, Business Programs Specialist at 402-437-5568 or

Visit the Nebraska Rural Development web site at for additional information.

USDA Rural Development Farm Labor Housing Program
The Direct Farm Labor Housing Loan and Grant Program provides for housing and related facilities for domestic farm laborers including processing plant workers. The housing can be off-farm or on the farm. Eligible to apply are broad-based nonprofit organizations, nonprofit organization of farm workers, Federally recognized Indian Tribes, agencies of political subdivisions of state or local government individual farmers, family farm partnerships or corporations and farmer associations. Grants are available to non-profits or political subdivisions only. Funding is competed for nationally through an annual Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for off-farm housing. Applications for on-farm labor housing can be made at any time throughout the year.

Contact Cindy Frazier, Multi Family Housing Director 402-437-5557 or

Visit the Nebraska Rural Development web site at

Updated January 2020