USA, Washington DC. US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make up to US$215 million in grants and other support available to expand meat and poultry processing options. By this measure, the Biden administration attempts to increase resiliency and create economic opportunity in its rural areas.
Last week, USDA Secretary Vilsack Tom Vilsack announced the funding opportunity as a measure to strengthen the food supply chain and create jobs and economic opportunities in rural areas. Following US President Biden's Executive Order on America's Supply Chain, the funding package is one of several actions to increase competition in meat and poultry processing to make agricultural markets more accessible, fair, competitive, and resilient for American 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. The Secretary stressed that the USDA was 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," Vilsack added.
Through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP), USDA Rural Development will make US$150 million available in grants to fund startup and expansion activities in the meat and poultry processing sector. Grants of up to $25 million each are targeted at expanding the processing capacity through a variety of activities, including construction, expansion of existing facilities, and acquisition of equipment.
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will provide another US$40 million for workforce development and training. The primary investment will be through competitive grants to support workforce training at community, junior and technical colleges with programs specifically for meat and poultry processing.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will provide US$25 million to offer technical assistance to grant applicants and others seeking resources related to meat and poultry processing. The AMS seeks to establish partnerships with organizations that will provide technical assistance to MPPEP applicants, recent recipients and future applicants of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant program, and to entities who require general guidance and resources on meat and poultry processing. Of the $25 million, AMS will utilize $10 million to implement the first phase of support by establishing an initial technical assistance network and lead coordinator.