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USDA-AMS Cooperative Agreement: Empowering Local and Regional Protein Processing in the Upper Midwest

The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) and the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Services (USDA-AMS) are collaborating to ensure a viable local and regional small-to-medium-scale protein processing industry, utilizing a variety of support mechanisms. With the announcement of several new federal and state programs supporting local and regional meat and poultry processing, it is imperative to identify the needs of industry and address as part of an effort to strengthen the ongoing competitiveness of these facilities and businesses.

This collaborative project focuses on four key objectives with specific deliverables to support the United States’ food system. A regional advisory taskforce, comprised of representatives from the five-state region (Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin), will guide the deliverables.

Regional Advisory Taskforce

  • Convene partners for a regional collaboration to review and advise on cooperative agreement activities.
  • Leverage networks to ensure maximum reach for each of the pillars of work.
  • Work together to develop deliverables that address the needs of the regional protein processing sector.

Finance Working Group

  • Generate a feasibility framework of key business and financial metrics and high-risk variables to serve as a guide to accelerate a local and regional protein processors’ ability to start or expand a livestock processing business.
  • Establish a road map outlining the fundamentals of proper due diligence on developing or expanding a protein processing facility/business.
  • Investigate the feasibility of creating a financial benchmarking tool of local and regional meat processing businesses for financial institutions to use, including identification of key variables and metrics, risk areas and ROI expectations.
  • Explore ongoing reporting structures to better understand how processors perform compared to peers on key variables to identify potential improvement areas for profitability.
  • Help identify essential expenditures and permits businesses need to consider before expanding or constructing new processing sites.

Needs Assessment and Literature Review

  • Conduct focus groups and one-on-one interviews with industry representatives to prioritize gaps existing in the protein supply chain.
  • Conduct a literature review for documentation and exploration of challenges and opportunities related to enhancing resiliency in the livestock processing sector.

Resource Map

  • Develop an online database of available physical and intellectual resources for the protein processing industry.
  • Identify existing resources that are available and/or underutilized in the Upper Midwest region for the livestock processing industry to reference.
  • Categorize resources based on resource type: education and training, legal and regulatory assistance, financial assistance, business development assistance, technical and product development assistance, policy/advocacy, engineering assistance, market assistance.

Technical Assistance and Business Development Assistance

  • Support the supply chain through services and programs that best serve the sector.
  • Engage protein processors by creating three short courses.
  • Technical assistance will comprise of activities related to labeling, packaging, HACCP plans and product development.
  • Business development planning will comprise of services related to market access, infrastructure, policy/advocacy, input supply, mentoring, feasibility studies and business plans.

Associated Deliverables: