Pritzker Administration invests $6M in meat and poultry supply chain

A new Illinois grant program, announced Friday, Sept. 30, will help support independently-owned meat and poultry companies looking to expand their workforces, increase production, and strengthen their supply chain.

The Meat & Poultry Supply Chain Capital Grant Program, announced by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), is designed to help processing companies build capacity as well as create and retain jobs. Companies are eligible for grants of $250,000 to $1.5 million, with a company match of at least four times the grant amount awarded.

“The Meat and Poultry Supply Chain Capital Grant Program is part of Illinois’ holistic effort to lower the costs of consumer goods for Illinois families,” the governor said in a DCEO news release. “By building capacity in Illinois’ meat processing industry, we are strengthening the supply chain, creating and retaining jobs and working to lower costs for families.”

In the wake of the pandemic, meat prices have increased considerably, in part due to limited capacity and lack of competition. The state’s new grant program aims to support communities by helping independently owned companies build capacity, create jobs and ultimately, strengthen Illinois’ meat processing supply chain, which would make food products more affordable and accessible, DCEO said. 

In order to achieve these goals, eligibility is restricted to plants that are not operated by the four largest meat processing companies that own most of the nation’s meat processing market share.

“Leveling the playing field for independently-owned meat processing companies will ultimately improve the bottom line for Illinois families,” DCEO Director Sylvia Garcia said in the release. “Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, Illinois continues to prioritize creating a more equitable business environment that strengthens our supply chain and economic growth.”

Through the program, companies can receive funding for the construction of a new facility, expanding or renovating existing facilities, and modernizing processing and manufacturing equipment. As part of DCEO’s commitment to equity, the application process prioritizes applicants located in underserved and rural areas.

“One of the lessons learned from the pandemic was how important our meat supply chain is in Illinois,” said Jerry Costello II, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the consumer price index for meats increased by 23% from March 2020 to August 2022, led by a 22.9% increase for beef and veal and a 24.6% increase for pork. 

Meat & Poultry Supply Chain Capital Grants will be issued on a rolling basis; interested parties can find more information on the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) here.

Here are what some state lawmakers had to say about the program:

“Our agricultural industry is vital to our success as a state, and it supports our food system across the world. These grants will help small businesses emerge from the pandemic and create and retain jobs in communities across the state, while shoring up the meat and poultry supplies, we all rely on to feed our families,” said State Rep. Lance Yednock (D-Ottawa).

“With this program, we are offering opportunities to another critical industry to locate in Illinois and hire more Illinois workers,” said State Representative Michael Halpin (D-Rock Island).

For more information about DCEO programs and funding opportunities, visit the DCEO website.

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