Grant program will help South Dakota small meat processors expand their operations

Farm and Food

South Dakota’s meat supply chain has experienced significant disruptions because of the COVID-19 pandemic and small meat processors are under incredible strain. Due to increased demands, reservations at local meat lockers have increased from 4-6 weeks in advance to 20-24 months, creating hardships for livestock producers needing to process their animals.

In response, a new grant program offered by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture aims to alleviate local processing bottlenecks by allocating $5 million toward grants for meat processors with less than 60 employees who meet one of the following criteria:

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

Funds may be used for improvements, such as processing and slaughter equipment, coolers/freezers, livestock holding equipment or facilities, and contractor costs. Salaries, supplies, and parts are not eligible. 

A strong local meat sector is a crucial component of South Dakota’s economy, and this grant program is an important step in getting the state’s meat processing industry back on track. Investments in local meat lockers have a ripple effect, creating jobs, generating a stable local meat supply, and ensuring farmers have options to process their livestock. These are significant impacts for rural communities. 

The application deadline for the grant program is May 1 and awards will be announced May 25. For more information, click here or contact Brian Pontious at 605.773.5559, or