Local governments, meat processors and small businesses to get CARES Act relief

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

HELENA – Federal CARES Act dollars will be used to support local governments, small businesses and local meat processors for pandemic-related costs, officials announced June 4.

The Montana Meat Processing Infrastructure Grant is available to aid small and medium-sized meat processors responding to COVID-19 supply chain disruptions by supporting local meat processing infrastructure and capacity in Montana.

"These grants will boost processing and storage capacity. They’ll help Montana businesses put more Montana meat onto more shelves. Plus, an increase in in-state processing means more direct sales, and better, value-added markets for producers," Gov. Steve Bullock said. "These investments will bolster Montana’s food security, making us stronger in response to the pandemic, as well as long into the future."

Due to interruptions in national supply chains, meat processing capacity throughout the U.S. has been significantly impacted. Supporting in-state meat processing infrastructure and capacity will provide alternative market options for Montana’s cattle, hog and poultry producers. 

Examples of eligible expenses include equipment and infrastructure that increases processing and/or storage capacity, costs associated with becoming state- or federally inspected, and other business adaptation and diversification activities. Total funding available through the program is $2 million, with a maximum award of $150,000. Applications are being accepted at covidrelief.mt.gov, and are due by 5 p.m. July 2.

An additional $25 million will be added to the Business Stabilization Program to aid small businesses in recovering from the economic impacts of COVID-19. The program, operated by the Department of Commerce, was initially allocated $50 million. The program has received more than 8,000 applications, with funding requests totaling more than $60 million.

Reimbursements will be available to local governments for COVID-19 related expenses. Localities can submit requests to the Department of Administration for reimbursement for items like medical expenses, public health expenses, or employees’ regular and overtime hours substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to COVID-19.

"Along with Montanans, our local governments have gone to great lengths throughout our response to COVID-19 to keep their local communities safe – and that has come with an extra cost," Bullock said. "I’m pleased we have been able to build on long-established working relationships with the Montana Association of Counties and the Montana League of Cities and Towns, and on our existing partnerships with county commissioners, mayors and other local officials across Montana to respond with a united front in the face of the pandemic."

"From the creation of the Task Force which prioritized private sector recovery and economic stability; through the framework for local government reimbursement for public safety and public health stability; we thank the governor and his administration for allowing input from Montana counties,” Montana Association of Counties Executive Director Eric Bryson said.

"We are thankful for the ongoing partnership with the governor and his team at the state," Montana League of Cities and Towns, and Roundup Mayor Sandra Jones, said. "We have worked side by side during this pandemic including developing the local government reimbursement program. These funds are critical to Montana’s 127 cities and towns and the work we do to serve Montanans every day."

Localities must submit requests for reimbursements by June 12, July 17, Sept. 4, and/or Dec. 1, 2020, and will be reimbursed within 30 days of these deadlines. Any entity will receive a maximum of four reimbursement payments.

Local governments may also be eligible for reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance grant program for costs related to emergency protective measures as a result of COVID-19, such as emergency operations center activities, training, facility disinfection, technical assistance and more.

Local governments can apply at covidrelief.mt.gov or email LGSportalregistrations@mt.gov for questions. 

The funding through the CARES Act is part of the $1.25 billion provided to Montana from the federal government. These dollars add to the $123 million in funding announced by Bullock in May. A comprehensive information resource and application portal is available at covidrelief.mt.gov.

New to the website is a transparency dashboard at https://commerce.mt.gov/Montana-Coronavirus-Relief/Awarded-Grants.