Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced Monday that more than 200 local meat and poultry processors have been awarded Meat Processing and Expansion grants through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. These small businesses can use the funds to purchase or upgrade equipment, develop a direct-to-consumer sales strategy or participate in food safety certification training. These grants are possible thanks to $4 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding allocated by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.
"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," says Naig. "The CARES Act funds will help these processors expand their operations to serve more producers in their communities, and give them opportunities to explore new markets for their products."
Business improvement grants
One hundred and nine meat and poultry processors will receive grants to purchase or upgrade their equipment. These improvements must allow the facility to increase its processing capacity to accommodate the increased demands brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, these upgrades may help a custom-exempt processing plant prepare to become an official plant, or help an official plant make the upgrades necessary to qualify for the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.
Direct marketing grants
Eighty-five Iowa livestock producers will receive direct marketing grants to produce marketing materials, develop services or purchase equipment to help transition to a direct-to-consumer sales strategy. This may include developing an online sales platform or an alternative sales channel. The recipients of this grant must direct-market less than 200 livestock or 2,000 poultry per year.
Owners and/or employees of 10 state-inspected and licensed meat and poultry establishments have been awarded tuition grants to participate in continuing education programs. The money must be used to enroll in an accredited meat sciences program and may be used for food safety training, like Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point certification.
A complete list of the Meat Processing and Expansion grant awardees is available here.