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Pandemic relief grants available to help small meat processors

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is providing grants to small scale meat processors for expenses associated with improving capacity during the coronavirus pandemic. Funds for these grants is provided through the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund.  

Small meat processors have worked hard to meet consumer demand for locally produced meat, and in many cases they have extended themselves financially to do this. The “Small Meat Processor Infrastructure and Capacity Relief” grant is meant to help small operations recoup some of their costs so they can keep the food supply chain moving while making sure local livestock producers can access needed processing.

More than $4.6 million is available for these grants. The money can be used to cover the cost of equipment, physical improvements, additional labor, worker and customer safety, and other expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020. WSDA is currently accepting applications for expenses up $150,000   

As these are reimbursement grants, applicants must provide receipts as part of the grant application. Both new and existing small-scale meat processors with fewer than 250 employees are eligible for the grants. Applicants must be USDA-inspected facilities, including mobile units, or custom operations licensed by WSDA. Funds are intended to reimburse eligible expenditures so grant recipients must be prepared to provide receipts or other documentation of expenses.

WSDA requested the funds in July, recognizing that there has been an increase in demand for the services of small meat processing facilities, due to disruptions in larger operations from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The application period begins Friday, Oct. 23 and will remain open until Monday, Nov. 16. Visit agr.wa.gov/grants to apply or for more information.