Dozens of small meat processors share first round of ARPA-funded state grants

LINCOLN – For 39 years, Pelican’s Meat Processing has been the custom slaughterhouse of choice in the farming town of Johnson, in southeastern Nebraska.

This week, owners learned that the processor will be among dozens of small crate plants that will receive grants of up to $80,000 to help build state capacity to process beef, pork and other other farm animals.

Sandie Lavigne, whose father Frank Pelican owns the Johnson business, said the money could help solve a problem many small businesses face today – a shortage of workers.

Could help retain, attract workers

“There are six of us, when we’re all here,” Lavigne said.

The $80,000 grant to Pelican’s Meat Processing could be used to buy a new meat-packing machine, she said, or help pay off a loan for a new carcass cooler.

Either could make working at the locker factory a little easier for the mostly older workforce, according to Lavigne, available in the Nemaha County area.

Earlier this week, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture announced a total of $4.9 million in grants to 64 meat processing facilities across the state through the Nebraska Independent Processors Assistance Program. ‘State.

ARPA funds used

The program was launched by the Nebraska Legislature and Governor Pete Ricketts this spring. It is using $10 million of the state’s $1 billion allocation from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a federal effort to revive an economy slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program targets small meat processors like Pelican with fewer than 25 employees and less than $2.5 million in annual sales — companies that have struggled to pick up the slack when processing into larger facilities. corporate culling have lagged during the pandemic.

Steve Wellman, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, said the grants will help Nebraska cattle ranchers and meat processors bolster the nation’s food supply.

“Through these grants, meat processing facilities can implement projects that will benefit meat processing efforts,” Wellman said in a press release. “These grants remind us that Nebraska is committed to the meat processing industry and we appreciate its importance to agriculture.”

A supporter of the subsidy program, Johnathan Hladik of the Center for Rural Affairs, said Wednesday that these small meat processors have not received the state and federal support enjoyed by their much larger counterparts, although they have taken up exactly the same challenges.

“We understood the sacrifices local lockers had to make,” Hladik said, which is why they supported the creation of the grant program.

Second round of grants next year

In total, the Department of Agriculture will provide about $9.8 million in grants under the Independent Processor Assistance Program.

A second round of grants will be awarded in the first half of 2023, until funding is exhausted.

Previous recipients will be able to apply in subsequent rounds, but preference will be given to applications that have not previously received funding, an agriculture department spokeswoman said.

For more information, contact NDA Legislative Coordinator Breanna Wirth at 402-890-1509 or [email protected]

First round rrecipients who got $80,000 each: 4 His Glory, Hay Springs; Ace & Ida Inc., Ord; AK Meats LLC, Naper; Albion Locker, Albion; ASC lockers, West Point; Main Street Market B and J, Humphrey; Locker B&B, Wynot; GREAT Meats, Omaha; Belschner Meats, Amherst; Borchard Custom Cuts, Benkelmann; Busy bone butcher, Cozad; CR Packing, Gordon; Cedar Rapids Locker, Cedar Rapids; C&G Wild Game Processing, LLC, Seneca; Chuckwagon Meats, Arthur; Cornelius Butcher, Pickrell; Cornhusker Beef Company, Johnson; Country Butcher, Humphrey; Den country meats, Table Rock; Locker Diller, Diller; Elmwood Meat Factory, Elmwood; Flatwater Meats, Snyder; Franklin Locker, Franklin; Gentlet Packing, Holstein; Tune the racing, tune; HD Processing dba Blue River Meats, Crete; Hearty Breeder, Paxton; Homeland Processing, Niobrara: Husker Meats, Ainsworth; Custom cut from Jansen, Rushville; KB Quality Meat, Blair; Kelley’s Custom Pack, North Platte; McLean beef, York; MK Meats, Unadilla; NE family, Springview; Nelson Butcher, Ceresco; North Bend Locker, North Bend; Oakland Meat Processing, Oakland; Patriot beef, Deshler; pelican meat, Johnson; Pickrell Locker, Pickrel; Polk locker, Polk; Prairie Processing, Paxton; R&M meats, Norfolk; Ravenna Locker, Ravenna, Rodriguez Brothers Processing, Mitchell; Table Meats, Hemingford; The rusty butcher, Downtown; Twin Cities Pack, Gering; Twin Loups quality meats, St. Paul; Valentine’s Locker, Valentine’s Day; Locker Wahoo, Wahoo; The Creatures of Whiskey Creek, Fordice; Wildcat Locker Inc., Filley; Willow Creek Meats, McCook; Winfield Foods, Dawn.

Grant recipients who received other amounts: Faltin Meat Market, Howells, $66,000; Fremont Meat Market, Fremont, $79,176: Melcher’s Locker, Lindsay, $19,000: Oxford Locker, Oxford, $75,000; Shelton Locker, Shelton, $17,500; Steve’s butcher shop, Doniphan, $32,000; Fairfield Butcher, Fairfield, $75,000; Wausau Lockers, Wausau, $70,000.

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