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JACO Meats in Hope, Arkansas, is one of 15 recipients that will get a share of $5 million in grants via the Arkansas CARES Act Steering Committee and the Arkansas Legislative Council for the Arkansas Meat Processing Grant Program.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture announced the recipients earlier this week.

"Recipients of this funding will help address the lack of local, small-scale meat processing capacity in Arkansas that limited our producers' ability to meet consumer demand for locally grown meat products during the COVID-19 related disruptions," said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. "Expanded processing capacity will build resilience within the industry and provide benefit to producers, consumers, and our rural communities."

According to Anna Thrash, public information manager for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, "JACO Meats was selected by the review committee due to their application as well as their location in Southwest Arkansas which has significant livestock production without any USDA federal inspected processing facilities. JACO Meats intends to operate under USDA federal inspection where they will be able to assist local farmers and ranchers by processing up to 25-50 head of beef per week as well as hogs, lambs, and goats."

Each applicant was required to submit an application.

"A review committee consisting of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, Arkansas Cattlemen's Association, Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Livestock Marketing Association, Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry, the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, and the United States Department of Agriculture evaluated the applications and made the award selections," she said.

The Department received 45 applications requesting a total of more than $30 million in grant funding. Selected recipients will receive 79.7% of the amount requested up to a cap of $500,000 per application.

Thrash says this grant is a one-time measure.

Collectively, the applicants receiving awards anticipate increasing processing capacity by more than 1,260 cattle, 850 hogs, 7,000 poultry, and eight goats and sheep per month. They also anticipate utilizing 180 full-time positions and 38 part-time positions.

Arkansas ranks 10th in the nation in the value of animals and animal products that provide more than $5.6 billion to the state's economy annually. In the 2019 production year, according to the Department. Arkansas was ranked 10th in the nation in beef cow inventory and 25th in the nation in cattle and calves with 510,641,000 pounds of production.

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