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. These new opportunities are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to fight monopolization and promote competition across the economy. They are also aligned with USDA’s 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). 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. The agency 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.
Application materials can be found at www.rd.usda.gov/mppep or at www.grants.gov. Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 11, 2022, through www.grants.gov.
Meat and poultry processing workforce development
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. 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. A Request for Applications will be published in April 2022.
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. Each investment is designed to deliver needed support more quickly. Additional investments, either through the same or new programs and partnerships, are expected later this year. To sign up for notifications of these and other NIFA funding opportunities, visit the NIFA website.
Meat and poultry processing technical assistance
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. More information about the technical assistance is available at the Meat and Poultry Supply Chain website.
USDA’s one-year supply chain report, published Feb. 24, assessed the opportunities, including today’s significant investment in the meat and poultry sector, that USDA, other federal agencies and Congress have made over the long-term to infuse stability, improve equity, diversify and expand infrastructure and markets, and transform the food system.
Commitment to support 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. See all recent actions taken to support the American food supply chain on www.usda.gov/meat.
As co-chair of the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and the agency have brought together industry, labor and federal partners to address the short-term supply chain disruptions arising from the Administration’s economic recovery. This is one of several key steps that USDA is taking to build a more resilient supply chain and better food system and to increase competition in agricultural markets. The initiative will support key supply chain infrastructure investments to expand and scale existing capacity, as well as support long-term investments in new operations.