Application deadline for $10M grant program for meat processors looming

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
$10 million in grant monies available for Wisconsin meat processors through the Meat and Poultry Supply Chain Resiliency Grant.

Demand outpaced funding when over 100 applicants sought more than $4.4 million in grant funding through the Meat Processor Grant program last year. The problem? Only $200,000 was allotted for funding in the 2021-23 biennial budget.

With a maximum of $50,000 for each grant request, only five applicants received funding for projects that included construction of a new butcher shop, expansion of cold storage and the purchase of new equipment.

Gov. Tony Evers who initially requested $2 million in grant monies, orchestrated a new grant program, the Meat and Poultry Supply Chain Resiliency Grant, allocating up to $10 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

With more dollars on the table – up to $150,000 in funding for each proposal – Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Randy Romanski is hoping more meat processors get in on the action.

“These grants will invest in our meat processing businesses, help strengthen the industry, and help the industry modernize and expand to meet the needs of farmers and consumers,” Romanski said.

Considered a new grant cycle with a different dollar amount available, Romanski says those who applied for the Meat Processor Grant program will need to reapply before the 5 p.m. deadline on Aug. 19.

"We just can't carry over the applications from the previous grant," Romanski said during a media call on July 7.

Romanski says the application process for the Meat and Poultry Supply Chain Resiliency Grant will be similar.

"If they've been through the application process, which involves answering a few questions, developing a budget and business plan, it should be relatively easy to do," he said. 

Romanski says DATCP will be hosting a webinar at the end of the month for any processors interested in applying for the grant. 

Meat processors will be able to apply for up to $150,000 in grant funding for improvements or expansions in their facility that increase harvest capacity or production. Successful applicants of the competitive review process are required to provide a match of 100% of the grant amount. 

Evers told Wisconsin Public Radio that the meat processing industry has struggled with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic from the beginning, with outbreaks at the country’s largest processing plants causing supply chain problems and shortages of products on grocery store shelves.

While local and regional processors have continued to see extraordinarily high demand for their products, many say the high cost of expanding their capacity is out of reach.

Evers said the state's pandemic recovery funds will help processors overcome that cost and create better resiliency for the industry moving forward. 

For more information or to apply for the grant visit https://bit.ly/3P1hfys