JEFFERSON CITY, MO. – As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was a $2.2-trillion stimulus bill passed by Congress in 2020, the Missouri Department of Agriculture awarded more than $16.7 million in funding to assist 147 small meat processing companies. The Meat & Poultry Processing Grant was designed to support meat and poultry processing operations with less than 200 employees to bolster the state’s food supply chain. Recipients of the grant were given financial assistance to begin or increase capacity by granting them inspection status or custom exempt inspection status. Companies were reimbursed for investments or upgrades to processing equipment, packaging equipment, utilities or transitioning to an inspected operation.

“Many members of the Missouri Association of Meat Processors received the Missouri Meat and Poultry Processing Grant,” said Niki Cloud, executive secretary of MAMP. “Processors were able to make further improvements to their businesses, which helped their local economy, and ultimately keep their communities fed.”

Funds were awarded to new or expanded plants, including five federally inspected facilities, 27 state-inspected plants and 12 new custom-exempt meat and poultry processing facilities. Recipients also included 62 existing USDA-inspected plants and 43 state-inspected plants. 

Chris Chinn, director of agriculture, said the grant allowed the addition of 27 state-inspected meat plants. 

“Our local meat processors were the backbone of our food supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Chinn said. “Last year, our team doubled the amount of red meat under state inspection, so we know the demand is there.” 

“As a cattleman and former small business owner, I am passionate about raising, processing and buying the products produced right here at home,” said Governor Mike Parson. “Investing in small businesses is a way to ensure that our food supply is strong and that Missourians are able to continue feeding their families during future emergencies. These grants will not only benefit Missouri meat processors but also consumers as their access to meat and poultry increases,” Parson said.