CHIPPEWA FALLS — Wisconsin Farmers Union commends Governor Tony Evers and the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) for today’s announcement of a $10 million investment in Wisconsin’s meat processing industry.

“This funding is very needed and will be appreciated throughout rural Wisconsin,” said Wisconsin Farmers Union President Rick Adamski. “There are a lot of facilities out there that are operating on a shoestring budget. These grants will help them modernize and better meet the needs of their communities. Continued investment in infrastructure and the diversification of Wisconsin’s meat processing will make the whole industry more resilient.”

The funding helps fill a gap that was left when the inaugural meat processing grant program in the 2021-2023 biennial state budget was slashed from $2 million to $200,000 by the legislature. Demand for those grants far exceeded the budget, with DATCP receiving 100 requests totaling more than $4.4 million for the initial round of funding. Today’s investment will offer grants of up to $150,000 through the Meat and Poultry Supply Chain Resiliency Grant Program, distributed by DATCP.

In the early onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, WFU convened a Meat Processing Task Force that developed a series of webinars and panel discussions to explore the complexity of the issue and potential solutions. Task force members also helped develop a network analysis and collect resources to further address issues within meat processing.

Findings from those efforts have been compiled in WFU’s report “Meat Processing in Wisconsin: Challenges and Opportunities.” The publication includes viewpoints and resources collected from key stakeholders, including state agencies, national partners, impacted farmers, small-scale processors, and labor organizations.

Investments in infrastructure, such as the one announced today, are among the report’s proposed solutions to meat processing bottlenecks.

Meat Processing Infrastructure was identified as a Special Order of Business by grassroots members of WFU over the last three years.

“Wisconsin Farmers Union responded to this crisis because of our members’ clearly defined struggles and needs in this area,” said WFU Executive Director Julie Keown-Bomar. “We hit this issue full-force with all parts of our mission — education, cooperation, and civic engagement — and we are delighted that our efforts have had some impact in helping the Governor’s office and legislators to recognize needs across our communities.”

Other state-level efforts over the past year included a $5 million allocation for meat industry training, aimed at reducing barriers to careers in meat processing, providing new opportunities to workers, and ensuring the food supply chain remains resilient.

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