November 10, 2022


US$15 million to help push meat production in Iowa, US


The Region 12 Council of Governments in Carroll, Iowa, the United States, has received US$15 million from the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program, which is intended to increase production in Iowa's meat production facilities.


Region executive director Rick Hunsaker said the funding "is all focused on increased production capacity" and not necessarily jobs. He added: "We care about job creation, but that's not a requirement… But the requirement is increased production.


"As we saw during the pandemic, you'd have these big plants that would close down or that would make decisions that would impact everybody in the supply chain. The goal, I think, is not only to increase capacity so that there are more people making products and more places making them so that it can be a little more resilient."


More producers can mean more competition, as well as more markets for producers, Hunksaker said, and the top four processing companies are excluded from the grant programme to help achieve the goal.


Only three US states - Iowa, Minnesota and North Carolina - were selected for the first round of funding, with grants used as capital for a revolving loan programme for Iowa businesses involved in the meat packing supply chain.


Hunsaker said there was interest in the programme when they were applying - they had US$27 million in interest - but that didn't mean those companies would apply, or be chosen, he added.


Grants would range from US$500,000 to US$10 million each. Grant funds could be used for buildings, working capital, equipment, or anything that might increase capacity, Hunsaker explained.


Region 12 is already working with the USDA to get staff trained on programme administration, but it could be after the start of the new year before they are ready to begin accepting applications. Applicants interested in the programme are encouraged to contact Region 12 directly for information.


Region 12 primarily includes west central Iowa, but this programme is different, Hunsaker said, as it will be available to eligible applicants throughout the state. Initial funding targets kill facilities or secondary processors, but the programme will open further within a few years.


The Region 12 Council of Governments Project Description stated: "COG hopes to see increases in the number of meat processing facilities in Iowa, diversification of ownership in Iowa's meat processing infrastructure, an increase in the number of producers across the state, greater resiliency to industry shocks, greater employment in the meat processing sector, increased capital investment and increased wealth among Iowa's residents. Small processors who expand or new projects located in the state means producers will have closer markets for their animals and decreased transportation will reduce greenhouse gas emissions."


- Atlantic News Telegraph

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