USDA commits $215 million to expand meat and poultry processing

The funding will help expand processing capacity and support rural development
calendar icon 25 February 2022
clock icon 3 minute read

US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced yesterday that USDA is making available 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 funding opportunity, announced on the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s Executive Order 14017 “America’s Supply Chains”, 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 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. “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. 

USDA Rural Development is making $150 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding available through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP). USDA 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’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will invest an additional $40 million through existing workforce development programs to provide a pipeline of well-trained workers to meet the demand for both current processors and increased independent processing capacity.

Additional investments will leverage existing regional USDA education and Extension networks and establish new, or supplement select existing, Centers of Excellence at Minority-serving Institutions focused on meat and poultry research, education and training. 

USDA also is helping to ensure that entities proposing independent meat and poultry processing projects through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP) have full service technical assistance support from application through post-award. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will provide approximately $25 million in American Rescue Plan funding 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. 

Biden-Harris Administration Commitment to Supporting American Farmers and Ranchers

This funding announcement follows the Biden-Harris Administration’s September 2021 announcement about the steps it is taking to address concentration in the meat-processing industry and the January 2022 announcement about an Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain. It also follows USDA’s December 2021 announcement of $100 million for guaranteed loans on top of the previously announced $500 million investment to expand meat and poultry processing capacity. 

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