Maine Livestock Producers and Five Pillars Butchery Forge New Halal-Certified Cooperative with USDA Grant

In a significant development, a Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) rural business development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is empowering a nascent cooperative in the state. This collaborative effort involves local Maine livestock producers and Five Pillars Butchery, an immigrant-owned business based in Unity.

CDI’s field technician, as per a USDA news release, revealed that up to 15 farmers, including six Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, several beginning farmers, and a cooperative of Somali women, are keen on participating in this cooperative endeavor.

The $65,000 grant will fuel the creation of a halal meat cooperative in Maine, addressing the growing demand for halal meat across the state and the broader region. Additionally, it aims to streamline the supply chain, making local meat more accessible to residents.

Director Hampson highlighted the grant’s significance, stating, “This Rural Business Development Grant award is a prime example of the way we’re using federal dollars to create a multiplier effect.” CDI’s role will be pivotal in advising and training cooperative members during the early stages, with key assistance areas including market studies, outreach for food safety requirements, processing schedules, pricing, and capital management.

The cooperative, comprised of livestock growers and processors, aims to establish a halal meat brand and a halal-certified, USDA-regulated slaughter and processing facility. CDI, based in Northampton, Massachusetts, will use the grant to guide the cooperative in its growth, fostering sustainable economic development.

Five Pillars Butchery anticipates reaching full capacity by 2028, projecting over $2 million in sales flowing back to cooperative farmers. This income boost will enable reinvestment in farm infrastructure, hiring more employees, and contributing to the sustainability of Maine’s agricultural sector.

USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant program is currently open for applications until February 28, 2024. Eligible entities, including towns, nonprofits, business cooperatives, and federally recognized tribes, can apply. CDI’s expertise in cooperative development aims to create a more prosperous and equitable economy.

For more information on the Rural Business Development Grant program, visit the Maine RBDG webpage ( or call (207) 990-9127.

About Cooperative Development Institute: Founded in 1994, the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) is a regional 501(c)3 non-profit with a focus on co-op development and cooperative food distribution networks. With deep expertise, CDI supports communities and businesses in building a more prosperous and equitable economy. Learn more at or contact Heather Holland, communications manager,”