2023 Legislative Session Update:
We are proud to be a part of the coalition that helped to pass the initial $2M investment into this grant fund in 2021 and have our staff participate in the working group and committee to distribute the funds in 2022. We echo the concerns raised by others in the hearing that although there was only $2M available and a relatively short turnaround on the funding application, $14M in requests (representing over $35M in matched investment) were requested through this process. This is only the beginning of solving this problem and we are urging the committee to regard this $10M as an essential next step (not the final solution) to this problem.
FoFF supports the expansion of meat processing capacity in Oregon and is excited for the developments that will come from the infrastructure investment in HB 2907. We urge the committee to support this bill and look forward to remaining part of the stakeholder and rulemaking groups that have the opportunity to determine priorities when choosing eligible projects and facilities.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture announced on June 28th that it has dispersed the $2 Million allocated by the Legislature for the Oregon Meat Processing Infrastructure and Capacity Building Grant to six awardees. This is a great step toward more availability of crucial processing infrastructure in parts of the state that have had limited or no access to these services. Congratulations to the facilities awarded funds to expand their operations or gain new standards of certification:
- Billy Bob’s Butcher Shop (Elgin) $ 435,210.93
- Central Oregon Butcher Boys (Prineville) $105,598.19
- Crystal Creek Meats (Roseburg) $382,707.09
- Mobile Ranch Butchering (Bandon) $299,762.84
- Mountain Valley Meat Service (Parkdale) $341,510.02
- The Meating Place (Hillsboro) $435,210.93
This grant distributed $2 Million that was allocated as a direct result of our work with Representative Brock-Smith in the 2021 Legislative Session. Our staff worked hard to make our producers’ voices heard and even drafted parts of the language that became law when HB2785 passed. Thank you so much to all of our farmers who testified during that process, who filled out surveys, and had private conversations with our staff about the barriers you face to bringing your meat to market. Your willingness to step up and raise your voice helped to ensure that processors serving small and specialty producers were considered and prioritized in this process.
FoFF identified lack of small producer friendly processing as a problem for over a decade ago, but the pandemic shined light into the cracks in the system that had been obscured by business as usual. When plants slowed down to accommodate crucial covid safety measures, small and specialty producers (as well as the big guys) saw processing slots canceled. With nowhere to turn to legally bring their product to market, producers in our network were reporting canceling orders and CSA shares, delaying business expansion, and in some cases even culling herds. We lept into action to find a solution along with dedicated allies in the ODA Meat Stakeholders working groups. Our dedicated meat producers came to the meeting and submitted testimony through FoFF staff to help paint a more complete picture of the problem in 2020. The funding for this project was passed as an accompaniment to this effort to expand options and add more capacity to the system in 2021.
This is not the end of expanding processing capacity here in Oregon. This is a great first step, but we will continue to work toward more funding for this program in the future, advocate for small producer and specialty (Kosher, Hallal, Organic, AWA) centric processing options, workforce development, and funding for processing adjacent industries like cold storage or value added services (smoke houses, etc.). To put this roadblock into perspective, there were 44 applications submitted which totaled $14 million dollars “in ask”, which demonstrates the clear need and demand for increased meat processing capacity in our state. Stay tuned for ways to build on this success in the 2023 legislative session!