A new task force in Iowa will study workforce challenges facing the meat processing industry, especially small-scale lockers. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig will chair the task force and has appointed 18 other people to participate. The group consists of meat locker owners, livestock producers, and professionals from the public and private sector knowledgeable of the industry.
In the 2021, Iowa legislative session, lawmakers passed House File 857, which charged the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship with establishing the Butchery Innovation Task Force.
The legislation also established a grant program to help lockers purchase equipment to increase production and create jobs. The two major challenges are: difficulty affording upgrades to grow their businesses and a lack of skilled workers that hampers their ability to increase processing capacity. Task force will do feasibility study, consider things such as apprenticeship and internship opportunities, employment outlook for graduates, and potential program enrollment and costs.