(1) The Independent Processor Assistance Program is created. The department shall administer the program contingent on funds being made available for such purpose.
(2) The purpose of the Independent Processor Assistance Program is to:
(a) Address supply chain disruptions caused by a public health emergency;
(b) Increase and improve livestock slaughter and meat processing capacity;
(c) Expand market access for small livestock producers; and
(d) Facilitate workforce development.
(3) In administering the Independent Processor Assistance Program, the department may develop policies and procedures for the disbursement of funds authorized by this section that include, at a minimum, the following:
(a) Applicant eligibility standards. At a minimum, such standards shall require that eligible applicants:
(i) Operate as a federally inspected, state-inspected, or custom-exempt slaughter and processing facility domiciled in Nebraska;
(ii) Demonstrate existing sales revenue of less than two million five hundred thousand dollars and employment of fewer than twenty-five employees; and
(iii) Be registered in good standing with the Secretary of State to do business in Nebraska; and
(b) Expense eligibility standards. At a minimum, such standards shall include:
(i) Capital improvements to expand capacity, including expansion and modifications to existing buildings or construction of new buildings at existing facilities;
(ii) Upgrades to utilities, including water, electric, heat, refrigeration, freezing, and waste facilities;
(iii) Livestock intake and storage equipment;
(iv) Processing and manufacturing equipment, including cutting equipment, mixers, grinders, sausage stuffers, smokers, curing equipment, pipes, motors, pumps, and valves;
(v) Packaging and handling equipment, including sealing, bagging, boxing, labeling, conveying, and product-moving equipment;
(vi) Warehouse equipment, including storage and curing racks;
(vii) Waste treatment and management equipment, including tanks, blowers, separators, dryers, digesters, and equipment that uses waste to produce energy, fuel, or industrial products;
(viii) Technology that allows increased capacity or business resilience, including software and hardware related to business functions, logistics, inventory management, plant production controls, temperature monitoring controls, and website design that enables e-commerce;
(ix) Rental of buildings, facilities, or equipment necessary to expand capacity, including mobile slaughter units and mobile refrigeration units used exclusively for meat or poultry processing;
(x) Costs associated with increased inspections or becoming inspected, including overtime inspection services by the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture and hazard analysis and critical control point consultation services; and
(xi) Educational and workforce training provided either by the facility or by an institution of higher education.
(4) The department may adopt and promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the purposes of the Independent Processor Assistance Program.