Ag Sec. Vilsack visits Wisconsin to tout meat processing expansion

By: - November 4, 2022 1:32 pm

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited a Chippewa County meat processor on Thursday to tout a Biden Administration grant program. (Wisconsin Farmers Union)

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited western Wisconsin to tout a grant program expanding the region’s meat processing industry and an effort to better connect rural communities with the federal government. 

Vilsack and White House domestic policy advisor Susan Rice were in Chippewa County to talk about the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program, which is a Biden Administration plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars across the country to increase competition, boost farmer and rancher income and lower grocery costs for families. The first round of grants is investing $73 million in 21 projects across the country. 

On Thursday, Rice and Vilsack visited Crescent Meats in Cadott, which has been awarded a $1.5 million grant through the program to help cover costs for an expansion that will nearly triple the square footage of its facility and double its processing ability. The expansion is expected to add about 35 jobs. 

“If farmers have more markets, then they’ll have greater competition for what they’re growing and raising and get a fairer price,” Vilsack said. “If you create more processing, you also create a whole series of new products for consumers, who are very interested in knowing the story behind their food.”

Danielle Endvick, who raises beef cattle on a Chippewa County ranch and serves as the communications director for the Wisconsin Farmers Union, said that having a local processor will help improve profits. 

“Farmers often have few options when it comes to marketing and processing our cattle,” Endvick said. “For every extra mile we have to transport animals, it cuts into already tight profit margins. It’s heartening to see this investment and the doors it could open for farmers who are direct marketing to consumers.” 

The Chippewa County visit also announced the expansion of the Rural Partners Network, a program established this spring to help connect rural people to federal resources and jobs. The network now includes 12 counties in Wisconsin and is aimed at helping those communities access funding through the American Rescue Plan Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. 

Through the expansion, the Northern Wisconsin Community Network includes Ashland, Iron and Pierce Counties; the Greater Menominee Community Network connects the Menominee Indian Tribe and Menominee County; the Forest County Community Network; the Adams County Community Network and the Northwestern Wisconsin Community Network which includes Eau Claire, Dunn, Clark, Buffalo, Pepin and Chippewa counties. 

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring that people in rural communities have every opportunity to succeed — and that they can find those opportunities right at home in rural America,” Vilsack said. “Rural people make up America’s spirit and character and provide the everyday essentials our country depends on. We know that when rural people thrive, America thrives. By expanding the Rural Partners Network, we can help these important but often overlooked communities receive their fair share of government resources to keep rural people and economies prepared for the future.”


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.