LINCOLN, NEB. — The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) plans to grant $9.8 million in Independent Processor Assistance Program Grants to new and existing meat processors. The money for the program was allocated from a portion of Nebraska’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, upon Gov. Pete Ricketts’ recommendation.

With the creation of this program, Nebraska joins states like Oregon, Ohio, North Carolina, Minnesota and Wisconsin in governmental assistance for meat processors.

“Nebraska is a leader in meat production and processing, which is a vital part of our nation’s food supply,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “Our livestock producers and meat processors have already faced many unique challenges created by the pandemic, and yet they continue to find solutions to keep the food chain operating. These grants will help Nebraska meat processors implement projects that will benefit meat processing today and strengthen the industry for tomorrow.”

The grants, awarding up to $80,000 for expenses incurred after Aug. 28, 2021, will help Nebraska meat processors improve and expand their facilities and capabilities.

To be eligible, processing facilities must earn less than $2.5 million in sales revenue, and they must have fewer than 25 employees.

NDA is distributing the grants in a series of rounds, and previous recipients may apply for later rounds. The first round of applications is open from July 5 to Aug. 12.