Secretary Naig Submits Comments to Boost Livestock Processing Capacity and Small-Scale Meat Lockers
DES MOINES, Iowa (Aug. 31, 2021) – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today submitted comments to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in response to their request for information on strategies to increase competition and production capacity in the meat processing industry. In their request for information, the USDA announced $500 million to support these efforts and strategies.
In the letter, Secretary Naig focuses his comments on three areas where the USDA can provide support in a meaningful way:
- Increasing the amount of mid-sized meat processors, providing producers with additional markets to have livestock processed.
- Ensuring that facilities under state inspection are not excluded in future USDA programs.
- Boosting small-scale meat lockers and facilities that are currently in existence with additional technical and financial resources to increase processing capacity and grow their businesses.
“One of my top priorities as Secretary of Agriculture is listening to folks in the agricultural community and being a strong voice for them. I have spoken with countless livestock producers and locker owners over the last year about the needs they have and the challenges they face. The strategies outlined in my letter are based on those conversations and will significantly improve issues related to price transparency, strong livestock markets and access to working capital,” said Naig. “Iowa is a national leader in livestock production and processing so it’s critical that our agricultural community’s voice is heard on this topic. I am hopeful that the USDA will review this stakeholder feedback closely and focus on issues that benefit those who are most impacted.”
Secretary Naig and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship have taken a leading role in addressing the challenges that Iowa’s meat lockers face. In 2020, the Department utilized $4 million of CARES Act funds, allocated by Gov. Kim Reynolds, to create a grant program that helped more than 200 small meat and poultry processors purchase equipment and upgrades to increase their processing capacity and improve efficiencies. Seeing the success of this program, Iowa state lawmakers replicated the grant program and created an annual appropriation to fund these projects into the future. Additionally, Secretary Naig is chairing the Artisanal Butchery Task Force that is charged with studying workforce issues in the meat processing industry
The full letter can be found here.