CHARLES CITY, Iowa — In early November, government officials announced that premium chicken integrator, Pure Prairie Farms Inc., is set to receive a $6.9 million dollar grant as part of USDA’s Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP). The program was launched in 2021 in response to supply chain disruptions in recent years for meat and poultry products during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to USDA, the program is “to encourage competition and sustainable growth in the U.S. meat processing sector, and to help improve supply chain resiliency.”
“It wasn’t so much that we matched our company to the grant, but that the grant was tailor made for smaller food companies like ours who are partnering in ownership with growers in unique way for the industry,” said Brian Roelofs, CEO and president of Pure Prairie Farms. “It will allow us to reach our state-of-the-art processing plant’s full potential much quicker and restore a market for area jobs and regional farmers.”
According to the Roelofs, what the Pure Prairie Farms team has achieved since purchasing its shuttered state-of-the-art processing facility last December has been impressive. He shared that together, alongside a small group of farmers and local maintenance crews, it took a significant effort to bring the plant back to whole after sitting idle for several years. The MPPEP grant now enables the team to take the business to the next level and achieve its vision around team member welfare, the quality of its facilities, and the quality of its state-of-the-art equipment. It even puts more meaning behind the company’s moniker of the “Where the Good Life Grows,” the company added.
Earmarked as part of a $51.7 million dollar improvement project for Pure Prairie Farms, according to Roelofs, the MPPEP grant will specifically help fund an 18,000-square-foot addition to include a warehouse and distribution center, dramatically improve the plant’s existing employee wellness area, and redesign its second-processing area.
“All of this allows us to maintain a beneficial and safe work environment for our team members in a post-pandemic environment, and to become the regional employer of choice because of our strong training programs and commitment to developing our people,” Roelofs said. “It also helps us provide a premium choice for a growing interest in locally and responsible sourced chicken products.”
In addition to the MPPEP grant, Pure Prairie Farms recently received a $2.3 million dollar training grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority as well as a $38.7 million dollar USDA-backed loan, designed to invest in smaller agriculture manufacturers. Along with capital from investors, the infusion of financial support further propels Pure Prairie Farms toward integrating its operations and providing for its team members, farm partners, customers, and community, the company said.
With its first production run planned for mid-November with approximately 40 farmer-partners and 50 team members, the company plans to reach its full production capacity by 2024 with more than 100 farmer-partners and 400 team members: while processing around 600,000 chickens weekly for retail, foodservice, and deli customers.
Consumers of Pure Prairie Farms’ products will enjoy premium quality chicken raised in cooperation with family farmer owners in in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, using strict animal welfare standards. Chickens will be fed a vegetarian diet, with no animal byproducts, and without the use of antibiotics. Products will be air-chilled, highly trimmed, and contain no-added-ingredients.
“We are both humbled and honored to receive the MPPEP grant, and for the positive impact it will make in our local and regional communities,” Roelofs said. “It provides further proof that we’re in this for the long-haul, which is important toward continuing to build trust and confidence in our stewardship. We believe it helps keep Pure Prairie Farms privately and locally owned, which accomplishes what it was meant to do.”