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CELESTINE, Ind.–Where does your meat come from? Since the pandemic started, more people than before have begun to demand locally-grown protein. So, beef and pork processors in Indiana, like Sander Processing in Celestine, in Dubois County, are growing to meet the demand.

“All these farmers around the area, state, country, are looking for processors to get their animals in and we’re able to take more in to help these farmers out,” said co-owner Kent Sander, talking to Inside Indiana Business.

Sander said the company is building a second plant in St. Anthony, with the help of a $150,000 grant from CARES Act money, administered by the state Dept. of Agriculture.

LINK: The Inside Indiana Business article and interview

That money, which the company is matching, is helping them build new buildings, upgrade the machinery and make sure there are enough people to do the job.

“Before we kind of had some older machinery and being able to upgrade, now we can do just as much in five days as we were doing in six or seven before,” said Sander.

The demand is there, in part, because during the pandemic some of the state’s largest corporate meat processors had to shut down due to COVID outbreaks, like the Tyson plant in Logansport. Now the demand is for locally-grown meat, and Hoosier farmers are using Hoosier processors.

“As people keep wanting to come back to wanting to know where their meat comes from, I think the deamnd will stay for a little while,” said Sander, who said his workers are not having to work as hard with the new machinery and are happier, in turn.

Sander is booked for the next nine months.

“We did everything we could to help our farmers out because we know that this state and country are driven by farmers.”