LYONS, NEBRASKA – Efforts to improve and expand Nebraska’s meat processing capabilities got a boost Monday as the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) announced its first round of grant funding through the Independent Processor Assistance Program (IPAP).
The grants, awarded to 64 small- and medium-sized processors across the state, total $4,914,247.08. The processors will use the money for modification or construction of buildings; packaging, processing, and storage equipment; technology to improve logistics or enable e-commerce; and workforce training.
The grant announcement is welcome news to the Center for Rural Affairs.
“Producers and processors across rural Nebraska have fought hard to get this program approved and established,” said Johnathan Hladik, policy director for the Center. “Their work, along with that of the Legislature and staff at NDA, will be a direct benefit to the households across Nebraska looking for more affordable and higher quality food options.”
The grant announcement culminates two years of work, which began with the introduction of Legislative Bill 324 by Sen. Tom Brandt in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working in collaboration with the Center for Rural Affairs, the Nebraska Cattlemen, and producers and processors across rural Nebraska, Brandt’s bill to create IPAP was unanimously approved by the Legislature in 2021. Earlier this year, the Legislature approved $10 million in funding for the program as part of the state’s allotment of recovery funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
Additional grant funding will be available early next year until it’s gone. Previous recipients will be eligible to apply, but preference will be given to applications not previously awarded funding.
Eligible processors must operate as either a USDA-FSIS facility or a federally regulated custom-exempt slaughter and processing facility, while also complying with federal regulations. The operation must be located in Nebraska and be registered in good standing with the Secretary of State to conduct business in Nebraska. Additionally, the processing facility must employ fewer than 25 people and have less than $2.5 million annually in existing sales revenue.