USDA announces grants through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program
By: Sydney Sheffield
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced over $73 million in 21 grant projects through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP). The grant projects will expand meat and poultry processing capacity, increase competition, support producer income, and strengthen the food supply chain to lower costs for working families and create jobs and economic opportunities in rural areas.
MPPEP is part of USDA’s initiative to strengthen critical supply chains and the food system. The program will support new investments in infrastructure for food aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storage, transportation, wholesaling, and distribution to increase capacity and create a more resilient, diverse, and secure US food supply chain.
“Since President Biden laid out a commitment at the start of this year, USDA has worked tirelessly to give farmers and ranchers a fair chance to compete in the marketplace, which in turn helps lower food costs for the American people,” said USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “By jumpstarting independent processing projects and increasing processing capacity, these investments create more opportunities for farmers and ranchers to get a fair price, while strengthening supply chains, delivering more food produced closer to home for families, expanding economic opportunity, and creating jobs in rural America.”
In addition, $75 million will fund eight projects through the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program, and more than $75 million for four meat and poultry-related projects through the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan program. In total, these announcements invest over $223 million in grants and loans to support small to mid-sized meat processing facilities.
“The National Cattlemen’s Beed Association (NCBA) has long advocated for expanded processing capacity to provide cattle producers with additional options for turning their cattle into high-quality beef. Today, the cattle industry needs more targeted capacity in high-need areas, and we look forward to these facilities launching and expanding operations,” said NCBA Senior Director of Government Affairs Tanner Beymer. “We appreciate USDA working with NCBA to strengthen the marketplace and support America’s cattle producers.”
USDA states the goals of the investments are:
Supporting producer-focused business models
Strengthening Local and Regional Food Systems
Reducing barriers to processing
Competing at scale
Restoring jobs in rural places
Empowering family-owned businesses
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) Policy Specialist Connor Kippe said the group “applauds these initial efforts to invest in our small and very small meat processing sector and USDA’s dedication to integrating stakeholder input on these programs. In the future, we hope to see even greater alignment in supporting small meat processors across USDA’s agencies and services.”
Learn more about MPPEP here.