More than a grant: meat processors build strong communities

INDIANA – Late last year the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch issued grants to meat processors across the state. Recently, she had the opportunity to learn more about how these funds were used to increase production, eliminate food shortages and support local Hoosier communities while visiting Sander Processing in Dubois County, which received one of the grants.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (center) tours Sander Processing with State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) and Sander Processing owner Chris Sander (left) at Sander Processing on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Sander Processing received $150,000 through the Indiana Meat Processing Expansion and Development Grant Program. 

Lt. Governor Crouch constitutionally serves as the President of the Indiana Senate, serves as the Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development, chairs the Indiana Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Task Force, and oversees four state agencies.

Funds for the grant program came from the federal CARES Act and were to be used to mitigate challenges caused by COVID-19. Near the start of the national health emergency, Indiana grocers and food supply chain experienced low-stocked shelves and meat counters.

“State ag leaders and I did not want to see that scarcity happen again. So, meat processors were given the opportunity to invest in their business to improve food supply resilience by increasing production, expanding meat processing, or promoting worker safety,” said Lt. Governor Crouch.

Indiana awarded more than $3.7 million to 40 small Hoosier meat processors. In order to qualify, applicants had to commit their own funds to the expansion project. Overall, this totaled a $9 million investment in Indiana’s economy, creating 237 additional jobs in Indiana.

“The grant program enabled the meat processing industry to bounce back strong, and provide for their local communities,” she added.

During Lt. Governor Crouch’s Sander Processing visit, she met the owners and toured their facility.

“It was great to see first-hand how the grant funding not only supported a Hoosier business but also the positive impact the grant had on workers,” said Lt. Governor Crouch. “Sander Processing hired additional workers to increase production, ensuring people in the community have access to fresh local meats and keeping our food supply chain operating.

Sander Processing and other Indiana meat processors pride themselves on curing their meats with local seasonings or making their own, and to kick up the flavor, most processors also smoke their meats in house. Additionally, these processors work with other local businesses and suppliers to keep most, if not all, of their money spent in the local economy.

“These businesses pour their heart and soul into their work and communities. I encourage everyone to seek out their local small meat processors and to shop local when possible,” Lt. Governor Crouch added. “It was an honor to spend some time with the backbone of these businesses today. To Sander Processing and the many others who received this funding, it became very clear this was certainly more than just a grant.