MADISON, WIS. —The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced last week that it would provide $5 million for meat talent development assistance. 

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said the funding would be used to attract and provide financial support for people in Wisconsin meat processing training programs, as well as support program development and connect the meat processing industry with potential employees.

“The last several years have brought challenges to every sector of our agricultural economy, including meat processing,” Evers said. “This investment will reduce barriers to careers in meat processing, provide new opportunities to workers across our state, and ensure our food supply chain remains resilient and successful well into Wisconsin's future.”

The money for the program is part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Evers proposed in his 2021-23 biennial budget to put in $2 million for meat processors to expand and modernize their operations, $2.63 million for a Meat Talent Development Program, and additional meat inspectors to keep up with production. 

During the latest budget process, the state legislature agreed with the governor on the need for an annual investment of $200,000 for a Meat Processor Grant Program, as well as four new meat inspector positions at DATCP. 

“Governor Evers recognizes that agriculture is our strength, and he is continuing to invest in our agriculture industry,” said DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski. “With up to $5 million available for meat talent development programming, people across Wisconsin will have the opportunity to access and obtain training they might not otherwise be able to afford, and we will be able to better connect potential employees with the industry.”

According to the DATCP, Wisconsin has more than 500 state and federally inspected meat plants.