Dawson Public Power District is pleased to partner with the Nebraska Enterprise Fund on launching a new $15 million loan fund to support meat and poultry processing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded a $15 million grant to NEF to support the expansion of meat and poultry processing in Nebraska and portions of southwestern Iowa.
The funding is targeted towards expanding and diversifying the meat and poultry processing capacity.
During the pandemic, livestock producers struggled to find options for harvesting animals.
“Prior to the pandemic, it was relatively easy to schedule appointments for processing beef and pork through area lockers,” explains Dave Behle, Key Accounts and Economic Development at Dawson PPD. “In a matter of months, we went from scheduling weeks ahead of time to over a year in advance. The market was turned on its head and, in many cases, producers had no options for specialty processing. Even larger markets were significantly delayed with plants temporarily closing or production significantly scaled back.”
This also created an opportunity for area lockers and producers to expand their operations.
“As a result of the pandemic, customers sought out new options for purchasing meat directly through the producers,” adds Behle. “We’ve fielded many calls from producers and even processors exploring options for expanding direct marketing of their product to consumers. There’s potential for added meat processing and direct marketing for our customers in the entire district.”
Due to the size and scope of the USDA grant, Dawson PPD pursued a partnership with NEF to manage the loan fund. Dawson PPD currently works with NEF on the administration of the district’s revolving loan fund for the exclusive use within its territory footprint.
“Working with NEF was an obvious choice to partner with on this,” Behle says. “They have the resources to effectively manage a large revolving loan fund. Because of their market presence in all of Nebraska and portions of southwest Iowa, these funds can really have an impact on agriculture and our rural communities.”
The initial USDA funding will support small to medium-sized meat and poultry processing through cost-effective financing. NEF can partner with other financial institutions on these projects. As the loans utilizing the grant money are paid back, it will create a revolving loan fund that can support a variety of projects in the food supply chain.
Dawson PPD started its revolving loan fund in 2005 with a $200,000 grant from USDA and a $40,000 match from Dawson PPD’s general funds. In 2011, there was an additional $300,000 USDA grant with a $60,000 match of Dawson PPD’s funds. In 2016, the district partnered with NEF to help administer the fund. The funds have helped develop a subdivision and industrial park in Hershey, Nebraska, and established the Elwood Market. Loans have also funded local restaurants, a food processor, a value-added agricultural business, a hair salon, and a floral shop.
Questions regarding funding from this revolving loan fund or any other entrepreneurial ventures can be directed to Dave Behle, Key Accounts and Economic Development, at 308-324-2386 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dawson Public Power District is a Nebraska rural electric utility system that serves south central Nebraska. Dawson PPD provides service to more than 23,000 electric meters and maintains over 5,800 miles of power lines. Dawson PPD is in the process of merging with Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District which provides surface water for about 1,100 accounts. Together, the Platte River Public Power and Irrigation District will continue its commitment to serve customers in central Nebraska. One of the benefits of the merger will be the economic development work that PRPPID plans to continue over a larger territory.