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Loans available for small meat processors

Minnesota Minute: Funds are available for meat and poultry processors as well as other supply chain members. Apply now to participate in the State of Ag Report, Century Farms program and beef Top of Class program.

February 6, 2024

6 Min Read
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HELP AVAILABLE: The Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program offers low-interest loans for the startup, expansion and operation of slaughter and further processing of meat and poultry. Kevin Schulz

Minnesota Farmers Union Foundation is accepting loan applications from meat processors. The foundation has a total of $900,000 in revolving loan funds to distribute to support small and medium-sized meat and poultry processors through the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program.

The MPILP offers low-interest loans for the startup, expansion and operation of slaughter and further processing of meat and poultry. Loans of up to $100,000 are available at a 4% fixed interest rate with a term of up to 10 years. Funds can be used to purchase land or equipment, cover startup costs and make other business investments. Returned funds will be made available to new borrowers.

MPILP is funded by a grant from USDA Rural Development. Find more information at mfu.org.

Be heard in ag survey

GreenSeam wants to hear your insights on the food and ag industry for the organization’s 2024 State of Ag Report.

In partnership with Minnesota State University, Mankato, the State of Ag Report offers data-driven insights for understanding and supporting the people, businesses and communities connected to ag in Minnesota. Respondents have the chance to win a $250 Visa gift card for completing the 10- to 15-minute survey.

If you, your business or your organization is directly or indirectly working in or near the ag, food or natural resource industry, you are invited to participate. Click here to take the survey before Feb. 9.

The 2024 State of Ag survey provides deeper insight into the future of agriculture. The results of the survey, along with the findings from a series of focus groups, will be published in a comprehensive 2024 State of Ag Report.

Century Farms applications available

Minnesota families who have owned their farms for 100 years or more are invited to apply for the 2024 Century Farm Program. Produced by the Minnesota State Fair in conjunction with the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, the Century Farm Program was created to promote agriculture and honor historical family farms in the state.

More than 11,000 Minnesota farms have been honored since the program began in 1976.

Family farms are recognized as a Century Farm when three requirements are met:

  1. at least 100 years old according to authentic land records

  2. in continuous family ownership for at least 100 years (continuous residence on the farm is not required)

  3. at least 50 acres and currently involved in agricultural production

A commemorative certificate signed by Gov. Tim Walz; Wally Wichmann, Minnesota State Fair board of managers president; and Dan Glessing, Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation president, will be awarded to qualifying families, along with an outdoor sign signifying Century Farm status.

Applications are available online at mnstatefair.org and fbmn.org; by calling the state fair office at 651-288-4417; or at statewide county Extension offices. The submission deadline is March 4. Recipients will be announced in the spring. Previously recognized families should not reapply.

Information on the Century Farm Program will be available at the Minnesota Farm Bureau exhibit during the 2024 Minnesota State Fair. A Century Farm database is also available at fbmn.org.

Grants to strengthen food supply chain

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for a new grant program to help strengthen Minnesota’s food supply chain.

The Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Grant Program offers competitive grants for Minnesota businesses and organizations operating middle-of-the-food-supply-chain activities that support local agricultural products. Up to $9.6 million in funding is available as part of a cooperative agreement awarded to the MDA by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.

Grants will fund projects that expand capacity and infrastructure for the aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transportation, wholesaling or distribution of locally and regionally produced food intended for human consumption, including specialty crops, dairy, grains, aquaculture and other food products (except meat and poultry, as they are funded through other programs). Awards will be between $100,000 and $3 million, and a 50% match of the total project cost is required.

Examples of eligible projects include but are not limited to: building a new cold storage facility, updating or expanding an existing processing facility, purchasing and installing new equipment, making facility upgrades that enhance worker safety, and improving capacity to comply with food safety regulations. The grant program will prioritize projects that involve dairy, annual and perennial grains, fruits and vegetables, dry beans, or aquaculture, as well as projects submitted by farmer- and worker-owned enterprises and cooperatives.

A variety of entities operating in the middle of the supply chain are eligible to apply, including:

  • agricultural producers or processors, or groups of agricultural producers and processors (including cooperatives or associations)

  • small for-profit businesses

  • nonprofit organizations

  • local and tribal government entities

  • institutions such as schools, universities and hospitals

Additional consideration and a reduced 25% match requirement will be given to eligible applicants who are historically underserved farmers and ranchers, small and underserved business owners, and other businesses that qualify under the U.S. Small Business Administration categories of small disadvantaged business, women-owned small business and veteran-owned small business.

Applications must be received by 4 p.m. on April 3 to be considered for funding. Visit the MDA’s Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Grant web page for full program and application details, as well as information on technical assistance available for developing grant proposals.

Top of the Class applications open

The Minnesota Beef Council and the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association are set to conduct the year-long educational Top of the Class program to train individuals on becoming strong advocates for the beef industry.

Applications for the program are now open and will be accepted through April 5. Those selected to participate will be equipped with various training, knowledge and experiential learning opportunities. Among the topics covered are media interview training, culinary demonstrations, impactful presentations and social media.

Participants will complete a series of three different educational sessions. Session 1, June 12-13, and Session 2, Oct. 23-24, will both be in St. Paul, Minn. Session 3 will be Jan. 7-10 in Denver.

The Minnesota Beef Council is a producer-led, nonprofit organization funded by the Beef Checkoff. Through the Minnesota Beef Council, participants will learn how to educate about the state’s beef industry with sessions that focus on sharing your story, understanding the nutritional value of beef and working with different types of media.

The Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association gives a legislative voice to Minnesota beef producers on a local, regional and national level. The association works closely with many industry partners to maintain a positive business climate for cattle producers through leadership and education. MNSCA will guide participants in discussing key topics impacting the state’s cattle industry.

After completing a year of training, Top of the Class graduates will join a group of alumni and may be called upon to assist the Minnesota Beef Council and MNSCA. Such duties may include responding to media requests, identifying local media contacts, being a voice to consumers and educators, ensuring the voice of the cattle industry is heard, or providing aid for any other needs that may arise.

There is a $300 fee for participants. The application and program details can be found online at Minnesota Beef Top of the Class application.

Interested individuals are asked to send their application to Jon Dilworth, director of industry relations, at [email protected] by April 5.

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