On May 23rd, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced the creation of the Meat and Poultry Supply Chain Resiliency Grant Program, investing a much needed $10 million in the state’s meat processors.
The program, according to a press release from the Office of the Governor, seeks to “continue to grow Wisconsin’s meat processing industry and improve the long-term viability of the state’s livestock industry.” The grant will be paid for by funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Earlier this year, Gov. Evers allocated $5 million for the Meal Talent Development assistance program, which was designed to “help attract students to meat careers, provide financial support to students in Wisconsin meat processing training programs, support program development, and connect the meat processing industry with potential employees,” according to the press release. This program will also be paid for with ARPA funds.
Initially, the 2021-23 biennial state budget allocated $200,000 each year for Meat Processor Infrastructure Grants (originally $2 million before the Joint Finance Committee cut down the governor’s investment proposal). However, after 100 applications came in asking for a total of $4.4 million in grants, Gov. Evers knew he had to make additional provisions.
In the recent press release, Gov. Evers said, “Wisconsin is home to hundreds of meat processors across the state who support our local communities, serve area farmers, connect with consumers, and contribute to our economy.” Evers explained that the program will allow Wisconsin meat processors to apply for grants up to $150,000 and asserts it “will help us continue to build critical infrastructure and increase processing capacity, ensuring the industry can thrive.”
Secretary Randy Romanski of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) praises Evers’ decision, saying the program “address[es] an unmet need” by “investing in critical areas including infrastructure improvements and workforce development.”
“Through these historic investments,” said Secretary Romanski, “Wisconsin’s meat processing industry will continue to thrive and remain as a national leader for years to come.”
Representative Dave Considine (D-Baraboo) also voiced his approval for the grant program. “This significant investment will not only help meat processors, but also farmers and consumers,” he said in a statement. “These funds are greatly needed, as many farmers currently struggle to find a processing facility that can process their meat in a timely matter. Meanwhile, meat processors are booked out for months or even years.”
Rep. Considine noted that the backlogs are not a new issue, stating, “They were facing this issue before the pandemic hit, and now the problem has been exacerbated.” Considine concludes his statement saying that because of this investment, “Wisconsin’s meat processing industry will have the ability to grow to its ever expanding potential.”
The program’s grant funds will be distributed by the Wisconsin DATCP, and processors are required to provide a match of 100 percent of the grant amount. Grants will be awarded through a competitive selection process, and the application period for the program is now open, ready to provide for farmers, consumers, and all those who depend on Wisconsin’s meat infrastructure.