The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry has distributed $10 million CARES Act grants to help meat processors expand, an effort to calm disruptions in the meat supply chain caused by COVID-19.
The Agriculture Enhancement and Diversification Board received 197 applications, but only 40 locations received funding.
Brian Lane, owner of a processing facility in Tonkawa, received $350,000 to expand and upgrade his facility to be a USDA-inspected. Lane said his facility has been at capacity since he took over as owner in May and has been booked with appointments extending into 2022. He said he thinks they will be able to spend the grant money by the mandatory deadline of Dec. 30 but will have to temporarily close down for about two months.
“It'll be a challenge because I've got employees that we're not going to be bringing in any money,” Lane said. “So that's going to be a little bit of a struggle, I think, trying to get everybody paid and keep up on all that kind of stuff.”
Officials like Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur hopes the grants will relieve some of the backlog processors are facing.
“I do recognize that $10 million in grants will not resolve all of our challenges in the meat processing sector, however, I am confident this has created a solid foundation for increasing capacity in our state,” Arthur said in a statement.