State Rep. Chris Swedzinski, of Ghent, is introducing a bill to help Minnesota butcher shops grow their businesses and meet surging demand for local meat.

Specifically, Swedzinski’s bill (H.F. 1591) provides tax exemptions for capital investments butchers make in their business. He said the idea is to help smaller shops, mainly in Greater Minnesota, upgrade their equipment or conduct modifications when a change in ownership happens.

“We’ve really seen, with the pandemic, just this huge need for butcher shops and keeping our meat local,” Swedzinski said. “This bill will give sales tax relief to butcher shops when they buy equipment. So, when they buy a new saw or a grinder, it will help with the cost. It will defray a lot of those dollars to keep them local so these businesses can expand.”

Swedzinski said expanded production from local butchers also could help mitigate market shortages – and price hikes – such as those experienced when larger processing plants were shut down in recent months.

“There’s a huge need for locally grown, locally produced pork and beef,” Swedzinski said. “Sadly, we really saw a huge bottleneck, and this will help businesses that are looking to expand, or upgrade, their rural butcher shop business. I hope we can find support across the aisle. We’re working with Democrats and Republicans to move this bill forward to help our rural economies and hope our little, small downtowns can continue to have their butcher shops be successful.”

Swedzinski’s bill was introduced Thursday in the House and awaits its first hearing.