Small MO meat processor utilizes grant funding
A southeastern Missouri meat processor has made several improvements to its business thanks to a grant from the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
Denise Essner co-operates Essner’s Custom Butchering near Kelso, Missouri. She tells Brownfield a CARES act grant has allowed her business to expedite needed upgrades.
“What we were able to with the grant, as far as with our building and our processing flow and even the equipment, is something that we had kind of looked at over 15 or 20 years,” she said. “And we were able to complete that in four months.”
Essner and her husband are the only full-time employees of the business. She said they were flooded with processing reservations during the pandemic with booking going from nine months out or less to two years but they’re cautious to hire more full-time help.
“The scary part of that is, if in six months they decide that they want to go somewhere else, we’re stuck with orders of beef that we have scheduled to butcher and process and we’re back to just the two of us,” Essner said.
Essner said utilizing the taxpayer funding to effectively increase processing capacity and become more efficient was critical. Nearly 150 Missouri meat and poultry processing facilities have made improvements or expansions under the nearly $17 million grant program.