ST. PAUL, MINN. — The State of Minnesota recently announced that it would receive $15 million from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a loan program that was designed to support small and medium-sized meat and poultry processors. 

The new Meat and Poultry Revolving Loan Fund can be accessed through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Rural Finance Authority.

“Local meat processing benefits farmers, our urban and rural economies, and consumers throughout the state,” said Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. “This loan program will help processors increase their capacity to better serve Minnesotans and ease supply chain disruptions we’ve witnessed over the past several years.”

MDA said the fund would offer low-interest loans for start-up, expansion or operation of slaughter or value-added meat operations. Loans of up to $10 million will be available at 3% fixed interest rates with a term of up to 10 years. The agency added that funds can be used toward the purchase of land and equipment, cover costs to start a business and make other business investments. 

“This loan program acts as a catalyst for rural prosperity by opening opportunities to expand local and regional processing capacity and increase competition within the meat industry. It creates new markets, new jobs and builds our economy,” said Colleen Landkamer, state director of Minnesota for USDA Rural Development. “Minnesota Rural Development is proud to partner with the State of Minnesota. This is a clear example of how the Biden administration is building our economy from the bottom up and middle out, investing in meat and poultry processing facilities that know how to serve their community’s unique needs.”

Minnesota’s program is part of an overall effort by the USDA to offer $223 million in grants and loans toward growing competition and expanding meat and poultry processing capacity in the United States.

Thom Peterson, the commissioner of the MDA, said the state’s Rural Finance Authority already oversees more than $96 million in loans and is well qualified to manage and administer the money.

“We are grateful for this award from USDA and look forward to its positive impact on the meat and poultry processing industry across Minnesota,” he added.

The state received praise from the Minnesota Farmers Union following the announcement of possible loans for meat processors. 

“Minnesota Farmers Union members have championed increased investment in small and medium-sized meat and poultry processors at the state and federal level for several years and are elated to see the establishment of a revolving loan program at Minnesota’s Rural Finance Authority,” said MFU President Gary Wertish. “These funds will assist rural entrepreneurs in expanding their businesses, which is welcome news for livestock farmers. We are grateful to USDA for making this investment in a more resilient food system, and we are appreciative of the leadership of Governor Walz and his administration as they pursued this funding to strengthen rural Minnesota’s economy.”

MDA added that loan applications would be available in early 2023.