$215 million in USDA funds for meat and poultry processing capacity
By: Sydney Sheffield
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced there will be up to $215 million in grants and other support to expand meat and poultry processing options, strengthen the food supply chain, and create jobs and economic opportunities in rural areas. The funds specifically will be for projects that promote competition and increase resiliency in rural America.
The USDA Rural Development funding comes from the American Rescue Plan through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP). As part of previously announced federal investments totaling $1 billion, these funds will be allocated to three main areas, MPPEP, workforce development, and technical assistance.
“For too long, ranchers and processors have seen the value and the opportunities they work so hard to create move away from the rural communities where they live and operate,” said USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is committed to making investments to support economic systems where the wealth created in rural areas stays in rural areas. The funding we’re announcing today ultimately will help us give farmers and ranchers a fair shake and strengthen supply chains while developing options to deliver food produced closer to home for families.”
The grant funding will be provided by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). USDA Rural Development will make $150 million available in grants to fund startup and expansion activities in the meat and poultry processing sector. On the other hand, NIFA will provide $40 million for workforce development and training, and AMS will provide $25 million to offer technical assistance to grant applicants and others seeking resources related to meat and poultry processing.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) celebrated the decision by USDA. Tanner Beymer, NCBA Director of Government Affairs and Market Regulatory Policy, said in a press release “Investing in packing capacity is critically important for the cattle industry. The expansion of regional processing facilities will bolster resiliency within the beef supply chain and help return marketing leverage to cattle producers."
Applications are open until April 11, 2022. USDA encourages applications that benefit smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, Tribes and tribal producers, socially disadvantaged producers, military veteran producers, and underserved communities.