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Government & Politics

Relief For Montana Meat Packers, Nonprofits Expanded

A cow looks up on a farm near Bridger, Montana.
Kayla Desroches
Yellowstone Public Radio

Montana’s governor Thursday said he will direct more coronavirus aid to nonprofits and meat packing businesses in the state.

Governor Steve Bullock’s office announced it would add more than $32 million in coronavirus relief funds to the Social Services Nonprofit Grant Program and Montana Meat Processing Infrastructure Grant Program.

While the state has redistributed some of its grant money from other programs because of lack of demand, Bullock said this week that applications from meat processors flowed in.

“This program’s had an incredible amount of interest and demand, making it a very competitive process," Bullock said.

Bullock added $7.5 million dollars to the initial $2 million in relief funds he allotted to meat processors struggling because of the pandemic. Demand for local processors has increased during the pandemic as outbreaks close large plants elsewhere and consumers turn to local producers.

The pandemic led to closures at meat plants in the Midwest and the supply chain disruption hurt producers across the United States, including in Montana.

The governor’s office also announced it would put an extra $25 million toward the Social Services Nonprofit Grant program due to an expressed need from the nonprofit sector. Previous recipients include youth sport programs, arts centers and wildlife groups.

Not all of the state’s relief programs have been so widely used. Bullock recently repurposed about 70 percent of unused funds earmarked for business loan deferment into the the Montana Working Capital Loan Program.