OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) – Bill Armbrust is a cow-veal producer who would like you to see a better-stocked meat counter at the grocery store. Many believe that more choice and competition will solve the problem.
“We found out during COVID, these empty shelves can happen especially in the meat industry,” Armbrust said.
To better ensure consumers have more options, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack wants to expand meat and poultry processing. To do this, it offers companies like Greater Omaha Packing money from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Greater Omaha is getting nearly $20 million and the company president says they need it based on the last year and a half.
“A factory as big as ours, the supply chain, it’s not just the raw ingredients, the live cattle of the supply, it’s a semiconductor chip. It’s a packaging delivery “It’s a dry ice expedition to produce safe and wholesome food. All of those things have been sternly tested over the last 18 months,” said Mike Drury, president of Greater Omaha Packing Co.
The plant will expand by nearly 29 percent. When completed, they will offer 250-300 high-paying jobs.
“The reason we’re planning this expansion is that we’re seeing stronger demand,” Drury said.
That’s about $223 million in aid that 19 states will receive through 32 awards.
“More opportunities for cattle farmers in this country, for pig farmers, for poultry farmers. About 34 million increased capacity in the poultry industry. About half a million for beef, pork and other meats,” US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
Armbrust says it’s investments like these that are the necessary seed to launch a project, as this is an industry that doesn’t operate on large profit margins. When packers are guaranteed loans or grants to expand, it gives them what they need to get to an area that growers and consumers need.
“We are definitely a partnership, the consumers (and) the producers are a partnership. What stands between us are the processors. We have to make sure the processors have what they need to stay modern,” said said Armbrust.
Besides adding additional facilities, Greater Omaha Packing is also building an automatic cold freezer for its frozen products.