CARES Money Helping Ag

States Direct Funding to Help Meat Processors

Victoria G Myers
By  Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Several states are using Coronovirus Aid dollars to fund grants aimed at improving capacity for state meat processors and building more consumer-direct sales platforms for livestock producers. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Victoria G. Myers)

In Iowa, $4 million in grants from Coronovirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding is being allocated by Governor Kim Reynolds for expansion of meat and poultry processors in the state, and development of consumer-direct platforms by livestock producers. The state is not alone in this type of effort.

In Kentucky, the state Agriculture Commission was granted a request for $2 million in funds for meat processing. Agricultural Commissioner Ryan Quarles said the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board acted in May to develop a program to help expand small meat processors in the state.

In Oklahoma, $10 million in grant money was made available to the meat processing sector of the state's agricultural community. Missouri announced it would put $20 million towards its meat processors. Every state has different requirements, limits and in many cases is targeting different areas for support, development and growth.

Iowa's funds were awarded in the form of grants through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. The money can be used to purchase or upgrade equipment, develop consumer direct sales strategies or participate in food safety certification training.

Secretary of Agriculture for the state, Mike Naig, noted: "the demand at local meat processors skyrocketed after COVID-19 caused disruptions in the food supply chain. These businesses extended their hours and added shifts to help local farmers, but many of them are still running at capacity. The CARES Act funds will help these producers expand their operations to serve more producers in their communities, and give them opportunities to explore new markets for their products."

The announcement about these grants in Iowa outlined some specifics about where the money is headed. Meat and poultry processors, totaling 109, will use the grants to buy or upgrade equipment. This will increase processing capacity and accommodate increased demand. In some cases the upgrades will help the plant make upgrades that allow it to qualify for the Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS)program. This is a program the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship established with the USDA that allows participating, state-inspected meat and poultry processors to ship product across state lines. To qualify a meat processor must have fewer than 25 full time workers, and comply with all federal food safety, sanitation and facility regulations. Individual livestock producers can't apply to the program, but they can sell their meat and poultry products across state lines if they process them at a CIS facility.

The grant money will also go to 85 Iowa livestock producers, in the form of direct marketing funds to be used to produce marketing materials, develop services or purchase equipment to help the operation transition to a direct-to-consumer sales platform. Recipients qualify if they direct-market less than 200 head of livestock, or 2,000 poultry, yearly.

Ten state-inspected and licensed meat and poultry establishments were awarded tuition grants to participate in continuing education programs. The money will be used for enrollment in accredited meat sciences programs, and/or food safety training and certification programs.

To see if your state is offering any grants that might benefit your agricultural business, go to the website for your state's Secretary of Agriculture.

Victoria Myers