To help the meat processors across the state, many of which are relatively small in size, the Washington state Department of Agriculture has made pandemic relief grants available. The funds will go to help address expenses associated with improving capacity during the coronavirus pandemic. The WSDA’s Laura Raymond said local meat processors have been under pressure thought the pandemic as their work load increased when national plants went off line.
“It’s a struggle, and they’ve also needed to make adjustments to their operations, to make sure that their workers are able to work safely. And sometimes that’s slowing down their efficiency and increasing their costs.”
Raymond added the Small Meat Processor Infrastructure and Capacity Relief grant is meant to help these small operations recoup some of the their costs so they can keep the food supply chain moving, while making sure local livestock producers can access needed processing. While it may sound clichéish, Raymond noted that the Ag community is in this together.
“It’s all part of a system that is focused on keeping our food supply chain functioning so we can keep customers in good access to food. So, it kind of takes all hands on deck, and this grant is just a part of trying to provide some support there.”
More than $4.6 million is available for these grants. WSDA is currently accepting applications for expenses of up to $150,000. And Raymond noted these grants also benefit consumers in the long run.
“One thing that has been true throughout this entire difficult time of the pandemic is that it has given consumers the opportunity to learn more about agriculture and how food really gets to the grocery store shelves and eventually to their homes. So, being able to increase the infrastructure and the functional capacity of our local food systems ends up benefiting consumers, absolutely.”
The application period is already underway, and remains open until Monday November 16th. To learn more or to apply visit the WSDA’s Website.