The capacity of Nebraska’s small meat processors continues to improve and expand thanks in part to grants issued through the Independent Processor Assistance Program (IPAP). In 2022, $10 million was allocated to the program as part of the state’s allotment of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Nearly $5 million was awarded to 64 small- and medium-sized processors across the state as part of the first round of funding. These grants were used to update technology, purchase and upgrade equipment, and increase capacity and production. The remaining funds are now available through the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
Meat processors Karmen and Jeremy Borchard, owners of Dundy County Processors, were among those awarded grant money in the first round. When COVID-19 hit, the Borchards were worried they would be forced to shut down. Instead, they experienced a historic increase in demand from both processing requests and customers who couldn’t get meat through grocers. The Borchards needed more processing capacity, so they applied for a grant under IPAP to buy new equipment.
To keep up with demand and a need that hasn’t gone away, the Borchards are expanding their facility and will become USDA-inspected to keep local meat in the economy and support area producers, a direction in which fellow first-round grant recipient Mark Cornelius also is going.
“People want a source for local, reliable, and readily available meats—not only as a consumer but also as a producer,” said Mark, who owns Cornelius Butchery in Pickrell, Nebraska. “The IPAP grant helped make our expansion possible and led to our decision in becoming a USDA facility. This will open up new markets for us.”
Mark used his $80,000 grant award to buy equipment to increase production. The money helped to free up capital and increased revenues to finance expansion for building slaughter capacity.
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for IPAP grants until Feb. 16. Eligible processors may apply for up to $100,000 and must operate as either a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Food Safety and Inspection Service facility or a federally regulated custom-exempt slaughter and processing facility. Previous recipients will be eligible to apply, but preference will be given to applicants not previously awarded funding.
More details are outlined on our Independent Processor Assistance Program fact sheet.
More information may be found by contacting the Nebraska Department of Agriculture or Meg Jackson with the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.