WASHINGTON – The US Economic Development Administration (EDA) said it plans to award $2.9 million in grants to the Farmers Union Foundation located in St. Paul, Minn.

The grant, which is funded by the American Rescue Plan, is designed to purchase mobile meat slaughtering and processing equipment for rural areas of Minnesota.

The venture will provide equipment for worker training programs at Central Lakes College in Staples, Minn., and Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minn. Both locations are developing certification programs in meat processing. 

Local funds of $740,000 will also be included in the grants. The agency said the programs are expected to create 150 jobs, retain 200 jobs and generate $20 million in private investment.

“President Biden’s American Rescue Plan helps communities tackle the workforce shortages that were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo. “This EDA investment in Central Minnesota gives individuals a pathway to good-paying jobs in the meat processing industry and helps address supply chain issues that will increase US competitiveness in the global market.”

Along with the federal government, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture recently awarded $709,235 of meat, poultry, egg and milk processing grants to 15 recipients across Minnesota in its first year of operation.

MDA said the grant program is designed to increase sales of Minnesota-raised livestock products and invest in equipment and physical improvements that support processing, capacity, market diversification and access. 

“The past couple years has clearly shown us the need for Minnesota farmers to have expanded options for processing their livestock and related products,” said Thom Petersen, Minnesota agriculture commissioner. “This new grant helps butchers increase the resiliency of their processing and provides customers with increased access to fresh meat, poultry, egg and milk products.”

The agency made the funding available through its Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) program.