OLYMPIA, WASH. – The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) recently started to accept applications for a grant program to support small meat processing operations.

The Washington State Legislature approved $3.6 million for the funding. The purpose of the investment is to increase access to livestock and poultry processing for small to midsize farmers and ranchers.

The grants are also designed to help the meat companies sell product directly to consumers, stores, food hubs, restaurants, schools and other local buyers. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that there is a need for more meat processing services in Washington, to strengthen food supply chains and local food economies,” WSDA said in its statement.

The WSDA Local Meat Processing Capacity Grants program will provide grants of up to $150,000 for small projects, and fund large projects between $150,000 and $750,000. 

The grant funds can be used for equipment, facility improvements, planning, and workforce development costs.

The deadline to apply for a small project grant is Feb. 28, while applicants for the large project grants have until March 7. To be eligible, small projects must be completed by June 30, 2022, while large projects must be completed by June 30, 2023.

The business applying must be owned and operated in Washington to be eligible for the grants, with 75 employees or fewer. Non-profit or government entities providing access to meat processing services or equipment for livestock producers are also eligible.

Information about the WSDA Local Meat Processing Capacity Grants, including how to apply, can be found by visiting agr.wa.gov/grants. An application guide is also available here