The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has today (Thursday, February 24) announced that it is making available up to $215 million (£160 million) in grants and other support to expand meat and poultry processing options.
The money will also be used to strengthen the food supply chain, and create jobs and economic opportunities in rural areas.
Today’s funding, announced by USDA secretary, Tom Vilsack is one of many actions that USDA is taking to expand processing capacity and increase competition in meat and poultry processing to make agricultural markets more accessible, fair, competitive, and resilient for farmers and ranchers.
"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,” Vilsack said.
"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."
USDA Rural Development will make $150 million available in grants to fund startup and expansion activities in the meat and poultry processing sector.
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will provide another $40 million for workforce development and training, and the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will provide $25 million to offer technical assistance to grant applicants and others seeking resources related to meat and poultry processing.
According to USDA, the measures are aligned with its vision of a food system that supports health and ensures producers receive a fair share of the food dollar, while advancing equity and combating the climate crisis.
Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program
USDA Rural Development is making $150 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding available through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP).
It is offering grants of up to $25 million each to expand processing capacity through a variety of activities, including but not limited to construction, expansion of existing facilities, and acquisition of equipment.
USDA has said that it is encouraging 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.