Gov. Kristi Noem visited Rapid City Thursday morning to announce the awarding of a meat processing grant to a South Dakota business expanding to the Black Hills.
State Sen. Jessica Castleberry of Rapid City, who Noem has described as a “champion” of the meat grant program and who helped earn her colleagues’ support for it, was also in attendance.
Dakota Butcher, which has locations in Clark, Watertown and Madison, will open a new storefront at 651 N. Creek Drive at the end of June. The company, which was started in 2009 by Randy and Karen Gruenwald, offers custom meat processing and catering services in addition to selling meat products, wine and spirits.
It will receive $86,292 from two separate $43,146 grants for two different facilities.
“I really don’t think this could have come at a more opportune time for everybody,” Randy Gruenwald said. “With COVID … everything takes a lot longer to get done. Everything costs a lot more to get done.”
He said the Governor’s Office’s support of meat processors helped minimize the level of losses in the meat industry.
The grant to Dakota Butcher is part of a $5 million Meat Processing Grant program funded with CARES Act monies. The program provides processors with the funds to make an immediate impact on the state’s ability to process and store South Dakota-raised meat products. The program will reimburse processors a portion of expenses, dependent on the total amount of funds available and the number of eligible applications received and approved.
Through the program, “people will have more options to market their products, we’ll have more opportunities to access meat that’s grown here by South Dakota producers, and more importantly, we’ll be better prepared and have a more stable food supply chain,” Noem said.
Ninety-nine meat processing grants have been approved, which will be used to help expand existing facilities and buy new equipment. Additionally, $1.5 million is going towards brand-new businesses and facilities.
Grants were available to meat processors with 60 employees or fewer in South Dakota that meet one of the following guidelines: state-inspected “equal to” slaughter and/or processing plants; licensed custom-exempt slaughter plants; or very small federally inspected plants.
To further expand the meat processing industry in the state, South Dakota is in the process of joining the Cooperative Interstate Shipping Program, which would allow processors to ship and sell their meats across state lines.
Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden discussed some of the challenges the meat processing industry has faced over the past year with disruptions in business due to COVID-19 and the solutions the state has come up with -- the meat processing grants and, eventually, joining the CIS program.
“Long term, that has a lot of potential for our state and for our consumers as well, and as the governor mentioned, this is not just about producers, their choices, their availability,” Rhoden said.
Also present at the event were Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources Hunter Roberts; Eric Jennings, president of the South Dakota Cattleman’s Association; Larry Stomprud of the South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation; and James Halverson, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association. Each thanked the governor for bringing the grant program to fruition and for supporting the meat industry.