(The Center Square) – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will use $15 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a new revolving loan program for small- and medium-sized meat and poultry processors.
“Local meat processing benefits farmers, our urban and rural economies, and consumers throughout the state,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a department news release Wednesday. “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.”
The department said the loan program will offer 3% fixed interest rate loans with a term of up to 10 years for the start-up, expansion or operation of slaughter and value-added meat and poultry processing. Loans of up to $10 million are available. With the funding, meat and poultry processors can purchase land or equipment or make other business investments. Returned funds will become available to new borrowers.
The program will be available through the department’s Rural Finance Authority.
USDA Rural Development Minnesota State Director Colleen Landkamer said the program’s a catalyst for rural prosperity since it opens opportunities to expand local and regional processing capacity and increases competition within the meat industry, creating new markets and new jobs.
“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,” she said.
Minnesota received the maximum $15 million in grant money for meat and poultry processing from the USDA Minnesota Rural Development Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program, the release said. The USDA will invest $200 million nationally through two rounds of program grants.
MDA Commissioner Thom Petersen said the MDA’s Rural Finance Authority already oversees over $96 million in loans.
Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish said the union’s members have championed increased investment in the processors at the state and federal levels.
“These funds will assist rural entrepreneurs in expanding their businesses, which is welcome news for livestock farmers,” Wertish said.
Loan applications will be available in early 2023, the release said.