South Dakota’s meat supply chain has experienced significant disruptions because of the COVID-19 pandemic and small meat processors are under incredible strain. Due to increased demands, reservations at local meat lockers have increased from 4-6 weeks in advance to 20-24 months, creating hardships for livestock producers needing to process their animals.
In response, a new grant program offered by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture aims to alleviate local processing bottlenecks by allocating $5 million toward grants for meat processors with less than 60 employees who meet one of the following criteria:
- State inspected “equal to” slaughter and/or processing plants.
- Licensed custom-exempt slaughter plants.
- Very small federally inspected plants.
Funds may be used for improvements, such as processing and slaughter equipment, coolers/freezers, livestock holding equipment or facilities, and contractor costs. Salaries, supplies, and parts are not eligible.
A strong local meat sector is a crucial component of South Dakota’s economy, and this grant program is an important step in getting the state’s meat processing industry back on track. Investments in local meat lockers have a ripple effect, creating jobs, generating a stable local meat supply, and ensuring farmers have options to process their livestock. These are significant impacts for rural communities.
The application deadline for the grant program is May 1 and awards will be announced May 25. For more information, contact Brian Pontious at 605-773-5559, or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://sdda.sd.gov/office-of-the-secretary/meatprocessinggrant.aspx.
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.