Meat processors in the Ozarks receiving state assistance as demand rises

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 11:38 AM CDT
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OZARK, Mo. (KY3) - Remember the meat shortage at grocery stores at the beginning of the pandemic? The Missouri Department of Agriculture is working toward expanding meat processors in the state to help feed families during future emergencies.

The state awarded nearly $17 million in CARES Act grants to meat processors across the state. The funding is to help new processors get started.

The money also helps existing ones, like the Ozark Meat Company, expand operations. It will receive a $200,000 grant. The company plans to spend the funds on more automation equipment to process and package meat. Owner David Herion believes it may allow them to double production. Herion believes with the new equipment, he will hire at least two more employees.

As the pandemic began, more and more customers began buying meat locally, looking for custom processing. Herion says the demand hasn’t slowed. And additional resources will help them meet the demand in the future.

“Well it was overwhelming because we went from butcher season in 2019 into early 2020, and typically, you do have a bit of a lad off and say, April,” said Herion. “So that March, April, it just boosted up as a full blown butcher season. So we’ve not had a break. We’ve not taken our foot off the gas in the past year and a half.”

The state’s grant money will benefit 100 existing facilities.

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