The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has awarded Value Added and Regional Food System Grants to nine projects throughout the state. Rainbow Packing Inc. of Escanaba, the region’s only USDA-inspected slaughter and processing facility, was awarded $100,000, which will go towards expanding their facility to keep pace with meat processing needs in the Upper Peninsula (UP).
The Upper Peninsula’s meat sector is poised for growth. The demand for locally grown meat is unmet and likely to increase, and many farmers in the region want to scale up their operations.
“Michigan continues to assert itself as a leader in food and agriculture both nationally and globally, and these grants clearly reflect that,” said MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams.
The suggestion for Rainbow Packing to increase meat processing capabilities came as a result of a regional feasibility study for Marquette County conducted by Karen Karp & Partners. The outcomes of the study included recommendations around facilitating the growth of the area’s meat sector. This required developing a deep understanding of regional assets — whether on the supply side with farmers, processors, and logistical services, or on the demand side with customers and markets — and evaluating what additional resources would be needed to support additional meat producers in the Upper Peninsula. Additional recommendations included facilitating communication and coordination within the meat sector, tapping into the greater demand for U.P. produced meat, offering tools and guidance to farmers for increased production.