Montana will receive $1.1M plus to expand meat processing capacity
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News from the office of Senator Tester
BIG SANDY — As part of his continued push to support small business in rural America, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured $1.109 million to support and expand meat processing operations across Montana. The funding comes from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and will be awarded in the form of seven Value-Added Producers Grants (VAPG). The grants will help seven Montana meat processors keep up with growing demand by enabling them to expand their operations and processing capacities; growing their customer bases; and assisting with production, operational, and marketing costs.
“Every day, consolidation in the ag industry is putting small processers out of business,” said Tester. “These grants will ensure that our small business owners have the resources they need to stay competitive, while creating jobs and lowering costs for producers and consumers. I’m proud to have secured this funding to fight consolidation and give our small businesses a fair shake.”
Tester has played a key role in expanding meat processing capability in Montana. Tester’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dedicated $1 billion for the expansion and diversification of independent processing capacity. In order to meet this objective, USDA created a number of Meat and Poultry Supply Chain programs and initiatives. The Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program was one of several programs developed to support participants of these initiatives by providing technical assistance to expand processing at the state and local levels. Last March, Tester secured $7.8 million for 30 Montana agriculture small businesses, which included funding for three new USDA-certified meat processing facilities.
Last November, Tester secured $2 million from the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program for the Great Falls Development Authority Inc. The funding, provided through ARPA, will go toward expanding GFDA’s relending work, providing support for both existing meat and poultry processing operations in the Great Falls region that are looking to grow as well as entrepreneurs looking to start new operations. Tester also secured $291,900 from the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP) for the Montana Premium Processing Cooperative (MPPC) in Havre.