COVID-19 relief funds available for SD meat processors

Equipment and capacity improvements may qualify for reimbursement

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely strained the nation’s food supply system. Meat processors were particularly hard-hit early on, working around the clock to assist livestock producers and meet demand.

As the virus spread through warehouses and plants, disruptions occurred in production and distribution. Record high prices ensued and consumer panic left grocery store shelves bare.

Since that time the sector has recovered considerably and operations are nearly back to normal. But leaders in South Dakota want to ensure a similar crisis does not happen again.

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) is offering grant money to butchers and meat lockers across the state for qualifying facility improvements. The new program aims to increase the state’s processing capacity while protecting producers and consumers.

Small businesses eligible

SDDA’s Meat Processing Grants target smaller plants with less than 60 employees. Eligible recipients must also qualify with at least one of three criteria:

  • State inspected “equal to” slaughter and/or processing plant
  • Licensed custom-exempt slaughter plant
  • Very small federally inspected plant

Grants will be dependent on the total of eligible applications received and approved. Governor Kristi Noem directed $5,000,000 in Coronavirus Relief Funds for the program.

Reimbursement for improvements

SDDA will reimburse a portion of expenses related to processing or storing South Dakota-raised protein. This includes beef, pork, poultry, lamb and bison.

Applicants must submit a detailed list of equipment or improvements and estimated costs. Candidates must also describe how the improvement will increase the efficiency of processing activities and/or increase volume.

Eligible expenses may include but are not limited to:

  • Coolers/freezers
  • Contractor costs (plumbing, draining, venting, electrical work)
  • Portion cutters
  • Processing equipment (smoking units, sausage stuffer, etc.)
  • Slaughter equipment (cradles, saws, hooks, scalders, sinks, etc.)
  • Equipment or facilities to hold livestock (fences, gates, chutes, etc.)

Costs must be incurred after the application has been approved by the state. Requests for reimbursements may not be made until the equipment has been purchased or improvement project completed.

Salaries, fringe expenses, supplies or parts are not eligible.

Must apply to receive funding

Applications are due May 1 with awards announced May 25, 2021. The form is available online on SDDA’s website.

For more information, Heartland customers can reach out to Casey Crabtree at 605-256-6536. You can also direct questions to Brian Pontious, SDDA policy advisor, at 605-773-5559.