WALKER — A Happy Dancing Turtle project to help area ranchers process livestock has received a financial boost from Cass County.
The Cass County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Oct. 5, approved $200,000 in funding for Happy Dancing Turtle under the American Rescue Plan Act grant.
Happy Dancing Turtle, in conjunction with other organizations in the area, indicated in their grant application that the $200,000 would match 10% of a grant from the Economic Development Administration which the organization is also seeking. The grants, if approved, will be used to purchase a mobile slaughter unit and related equipment for livestock in Cass County and other farms in Region Five.
The grant application noted that there was major disruption to food supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the meat processing and distribution industry. A mobile slaughter unit would allow local farmers and ranchers to process their cull cows under US Department of Agriculture or similar state-approved inspections. Central Lakes College’s Staples campus will also offer a meat-cutting program beginning in fall 2022, which will use the unit as a training facility.
Questions from County Commissioners included how the carcasses would be stored after slaughter and whether other local organizations/groceries were in approval of the mobile unit. A representative from Happy Dancing Turtle said about 50 different organizations have expressed their support for the mobile slaughter unit and are currently building a local brand to market the processed meat to grocery stores, schools, clubs service and local restaurants. Additionally, as part of the proposed mobile slaughter unit, there is a refrigeration room and there are also refrigeration units on the Central Lakes College Staples campus for carcass storage prior to processing.
RELATED: Cass County Council approves preliminary 3.5% tax increase for 2022
Happy Dancing Turtle, a Pine River-based nonprofit, says it is dedicated to growing good stewards of the planet by providing education, programs and experiences for youth and adults that inspire wonder and promote change. For more information, visit
In other cases, the county council:
Approved the cafeteria plan 2022 costs and plan contributions recommended by the insurance committee.
Heard by CFO Sandra Norikane that the 2020 audited financial statements and management and compliance report have been posted on the county’s website and will be published in the newspaper shortly. There have been no changes since they were presented to the Board previously. Norikane said all findings from past audits have been cleared and there are no new findings in the current year.
Heard an update from Carl Newbanks, Initiative Foundation Grants and Development Manager, regarding the Initiative Foundation’s 2020 response in Cass County. Newbanks reported that there were many funded projects that were referred by DEED and for every local dollar contributed, the Initiative Foundation reinvested $4.36 into Cass County.
The next appointments are:: Commissioner’s Board Meeting, 9 am Oct. 19 at the Lands Department meeting room in Backus; and Board of Commissioners meeting, at 9 a.m. Nov. 2 in the Walker Courthouse Annex Boardroom.