The recent closing of some large meat processing plants has left the livestock industry in turmoil. The larger meat processing plants are inspected by the USDA. When they are operating Federal Veterinarians must be on site inspecting the meat. In Minnesota there are many local owned and operated meat processing markets. They are supervised and inspected by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is working with local processing plants to expand their processing capacity. Plants can apply for an "expedited approvals to allow plants that currently do not sell wholesale in Minnesota to do so." There are also grant funds available for processing plants wanting to expand their operation.

The new grant program, AGRI Rapid Response Mini-Grant for Livestock Processing was designed to help processors deal with COVID-19. This program will be launched on April 30, 2020 and will be available to Minnesota Processors of meat, poultry, eggs, Milk, and to Livestock producers who need storage capacity for processed products until existing markets return or new markets developed.

Expanding local meat processing plants will not make up for a large plant shutting down. However, it is a step in the right direction, every little bit helps as we try and navigate thought COVID-19.