Farm loan recipient David Bock of St. Francis, Minn., has won a $2.20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand his chicken farm.
Bock, who was raised in a barn in Minnesota, has been growing chickens since he was 6 years old.
The grant will be used for the purchase of new equipment and seedlings and will be paid back in full.
The farm has a capacity of about 400 chickens, he said.
Bocks son is raising chickens in the state.
He hopes the grant will help him expand and expand the operation.
“I just want to be a bigger chicken farm so that my son can do as well as he wants,” he said, adding he hopes to produce enough eggs to feed his family.
The USDA has set aside $1.2 million to expand the farm to 200 head of chickens and 250 head of turkeys.
Backs of chicken farmers have been working on expansion plans since 2011 and have received $400,000 in grants.
A new farm expansion in Kansas will take another $1 million.
The federal government has also set aside another $800,000 for the expansion of existing farms.
The chicken industry is a $1 trillion industry and the USDA says it supports an average of 10,000 jobs.
“If we don’t have a lot of good farm workers, the chicken industry will not be as good as it should be,” said Mike Deutsch, president of the Chicken Workers Union.
The poultry industry is growing, Deutsch said, but some farmers have become accustomed to working in large warehouses and warehouses are becoming a lot more dangerous.
“There’s a lot less security,” Deutsch told KARE 11.
The new chicken farm in Kansas has a potential for 300,000 chickens and 200,000 turkeys and it has to have the same space as the existing farm, Deisch said.
The project has been on hold since 2011 when it was proposed to the federal government.
Deutsch says that a farm safety inspector visited the new farm and said the chicken factory was unsafe.
The government had asked the chicken farmers to move the poultry out of the factory and to change the size of the facility, but the chickens are still there.
The Chicken Workers union says they are working to make the chicken plant a safer facility and says it will be up to the chicken workers to fix the factory.