A total of $800,000 in USDA grant funding has been awarded to four Minnesota meat and poultry processors to expand capacity and upgrade facilities.
Funding comes through the agency’s Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant program (MPIRG). USDA recently announced it was awarding $32 million nationwide to 167 processors.
The four Minnesota recipients are:
1. Autumn Antlers Inc., $200,000. Autumn Antlers will use the grant to upgrade facilities, equipment and personnel from state custom-exempt meat processing licensure to USDA inspection. The owners intend to expand processing to beef, hogs, elk, red stag, deer and bison. The upgrade will initially create two new jobs in the area, with up to 15 new jobs possible.
2. Backroad Meats Inc., $200,000. Backroads Meats will use the grant to expand its freezer and processing area with an equipment upgrade to obtain USDA inspection status. Upgrades include a 26- by 35-foot addition, with a 15- by 25-foot freezer. A cooler for smoked and fully cooked product will be enlarged to 10 feet square, and a hydraulic sausage stuffer purchased. A workspace and office will be added, along with buying a computing scale with printer for federal inspection labeling requirements.
3. Neighbor’s Meats LLC, $200,000. Neighbor’s Meats will use its award to upgrade facilities to become a federally inspected slaughtering and processed meats retail facility, with the end goal of serving local meats to local customers. Funds will be used to install FDA-required food-grade coating on the interior cooler, make roof repairs and install required sinks; and update doors, refrigeration and the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plan.
4. Brüders Butcher-Breckenridge, $200,000. Bruders will use its grant to become a USDA-approved processor to serve farmers and consumers in the Breckenridge, Minn.-Wahpeton, N.D region. To serve consumers on the North Dakota side, Bruders must become a federally inspected facility. To meet federal inspection, the business will remodel and increase space. It will add another freezer to help keep finished products separate from other products.
Processors receiving these USDA grants can cover the costs for improvements such as expanding existing facilities; modernizing processing equipment; and meeting packaging, labeling, and food safety requirements needed to achieve a Federal Grant of Inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act; or to operate under a state’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.
MPIRG is jointly administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Food Safety and Inspection Service. The program was part of USDA’s comprehensive funding package to help small and very small processing facilities weather the pandemic, compete in the marketplace, and get the support they need to reach more customers.
In June 2021, USDA announced the availability of $55.2 million in MPIRG funding, accepting applications for a competitive grant award process that resulted in these awards. Remaining funds will be made available through a forthcoming Request for Applications.
To learn more about MPIRG and see the list of awards, visit ams.usda.gov/mpirg.