Focusing on increasing processing capacity
The coronavirus pandemic emphasized weaknesses in the meat processing system for many states.
Dr. Charlie Hatcher, Tennessee’s Commissioner of Agriculture says they’re making investments to improve their state’s processing sector. “The Governor and the Economic Stimulus Accountability Group awarded us $55-million of the CARES money for ag and forestry,” he says. “Of that $55-million, we have allocated about 20 percent of that money for meat processing increase in capacity. He tells Brownfield they expect the investments to have a significant impact on Tennessee’s ag economy.
AUDIO: Dr. Charlie Hatcher, Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture
Arkansas Secretary of Ag Wes Ward says they faced similar challenges in his state and as a result launched a meat and poultry processing grant program. “When the coronavirus pandemic hit, what we realized very quickly was that Arkansas didn’t have the broader production and processing capacity that we needed,” he says. “Really there were three USDA facilities that could do beef and one that could do poultry. This will help expand that and hopefully get these facilities up to a USDA inspected status and provide benefits to the state’s industry.” Ward says their grant program was funded through CARES Act relief funding.
AUDIO: Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Ag