The General Assembly met this past Wednesday and Thursday and passed a bill to distribute federal funds that were appropriated for Covid-19. Of interest to the seafood industry was a provision to provide $20,250.00 to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to provide for meat processing and seafood processing facilities. Here is some of the verbiage in the bill:
Seafood processors lack capacity to meet increased and altered consumer demand for seafood products due to COVID-19 related changes in the market for seafood and seafood products. The General Assembly further finds that financial assistance to these processors for physical expansion and facility improvements, for workforce development, and for the creation of additional processing capacity is necessary to reduce disruptions in the supply chain for fresh meat and seafood and to help small producers get their product to market.
Capacity enhancement grant. – This grant is available to an eligible meat or seafood processing facility that is experiencing slowdowns in production or has limited capacity to accommodate increased demand for meat processing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A capacity enhancement grant may be used for expansion of an existing eligible facility and for fixtures or equipment at an existing eligible facility that House Bill 1105-Ratified Page 27 will expand animal throughput, processing capacity, the amount or type of products produced, or processing speed.
Eligible facility. – For purposes of this section, an eligible meat processing facility is a meat food processing facility that either: a. Meets both of the following requirements: 1.a. The plant contracts with independent livestock producers or seafood harvesters to process animals owned by the producers or seafood. 2.b. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) contracts with Department inspectors to conduct federal inspection activities authorized by the Talmadge-Aiken Act of 1962 (7 U.S.C. § 1633) at the plant, the plant is otherwise regulated by the USDA or the FDA, or the plant is a State-inspected facility.
The bill also provides for $75 million to Golden Leaf in the form of emergency loans to small businesses. More details on that will be provided by NCFA next week.
The bill is now on the Governor’s desk for his signature and is H-1105 and can be found here:
The General Assembly adjourned yesterday and will reconvene mid-January next year.
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