Gov. Mike Parson and Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn announced the creation of the Missouri Meat and Poultry Processing Grant in an effort to quickly increase food supply chain resilience in the state. Established by the General Assembly through this year's budget process, $20 million in CARES Act Funds will be directed to meat and poultry establishments who employ fewer than 200 people. Approved projects will aim to increase food supply resilience by increasing livestock and poultry processing capacity and promote worker safety as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
"As a farmer, I understand firsthand the challenging circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has created within our agriculture community," says Parson. "Agriculture is the state's No. 1 economic driver, and I'm thankful for Sen. Justin Brown's leadership as a fellow cattleman and public servant to make sure these additional needs will be addressed."
The reimbursement grant will be administered using a tiered system, offering up to $200,000 for each state and federally inspected establishment that also conducts slaughter. State and federally inspected establishments that further process meat and poultry products, but do not conduct slaughter, qualify for up to $100,000 in grant funds. Custom exempt establishments may receive up to $20,000. Grants will be used to reimburse eligible expenses for new and existing establishments that are incurred from March 1 through Nov. 15.
"Every part of our food system was challenged during COVID-19," says Chinn. "These funds will be put to work in our local communities to address the unmet needs of our small business community, benefiting both producers and consumers."
Eligible expenses include, but are not limited to, capital improvements, utility upgrades, livestock intake and storage equipment, processing equipment, packaging and handling equipment, employee testing strategies, and more.
"The Missouri Association of Meat Processors is pleased to learn about this funding that will assist small processors in our state," says Roger Wibbenmeyer, president of the Missouri Association of Meat Processors. "Processors will be able to make further improvements to their businesses, which will help the economy, and ultimately help keep their local communities fed."
Applications must be submitted by Aug. 31. The deadline for all expenditure and reimbursement documentation, as well as final reporting, is Nov. 30.