Grant will help launch second USDA-inspected meat processing plant in western South Dakota

The CNF Enterprises grant was one of five meat processing grants announced Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023 by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Black Angus-type beef cattle stand near a waterer in a feedlot.
Black Angus cattle at a South Dakota feedline in August 2022.
Mikkel Pates / Agweek

The federal government is giving a South Dakota meat processing company a $3.3 million grant to help it get started.

CNF Enterprises plans to build a 30,000-square-foot processing facility in New Underwood, about 20 miles east of Rapid City in western South Dakota.

Tom Fitch, one of the co-owners of CNF, said it will be just the second USDA-inspected meat processor west of the Missouri River in South Dakota, with the other in Sturgis.

The CNF facility will have the capacity to process 4,000 head per year, including beef, pork, lamb and bison, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fitch is partnering with Ken Charfauros, Janet Niehaus of Wall Meats, which has butcher shops in Wall and Rapid City, to get the project rolling.


“One of the real advantages we have in this is the experience and the success and the reputation they've built here in West River,” said Fitch, whose background is in aerospace and with the Air Force.

The company is working on finalizing its financing and hopes to break ground in the spring and be operating after about 18 months of construction, Fitch said.

“The entire intent of this endeavor is to provide processing capability for western South Dakota and ensure food security and protein production in a great market and provide the opportunity for western producers to have a place to bring their product,” Fitch said.

The CNF grant was one of five announced Tuesday, Feb. 21, by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, totaling about $59 million.

USDA has been awarding Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program grants to help improve competition in the meat industry, which is dominated by four large packers.

In November, USDA awarded $75 million to 22 projects. In January, USDA awarded an additional $12 million to three more projects, including Benson and Turner Foods of Waubun, Minnesota.

Other grants announced Feb. 21 were $25 million for Riverbend Meats in Idaho to process beef; $25 million for poultry processing in South Carolina; $3.6 million for a chicken processing plant in Virginia; and $2 million for poultry processing in Maryland.

“The Biden-Harris Administration and USDA are taking action to advance a sustainable vision of agriculture that prioritizes the needs of our resilient producers and small businesses, strengthens our food supply chain and brings value back to rural people and places,” Vilsack said in the news release.


In July 2022, Biden signed an executive order to promote competition in the meat industry, citing that four large meat-packing companies control 85% of the beef market; in poultry, the top four processors control 54% of the market; and in pork, the top four processing firms control about 70% of the market.

Reach Jeff Beach at or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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