WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Feb. 24 that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) would provide up to $215 million in grants and other support to expand meat and poultry processing, improve the food supply chain and create jobs and economic opportunities in rural areas.

USDA’s Rural Development plans to make $150 million available in grants to fund startup and expansion activities in the meat and poultry processing sector. The agency’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) plans to provide another $40 million for workforce development and training. Finally, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will offer $25 million in technical assistance to grant applicants and other looking for meat and poultry processing resources.

“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.”

The Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP) funds are part of a previous announcement by the Biden Administration in January where the agency will allocate $1 billion to expand independent meat processing capacity in the United States.

USDA Rural Development funding comes from the American Rescue Plan through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program. 

The agency 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.

After the announcement, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) lauded the USDA’s support of the industry.

“Investing in packing capacity is critically important for the cattle industry,” said Tanner Beymer, director of government affairs and market regulatory policy for the NCBA. “The expansion of regional processing facilities will bolster resiliency within the beef supply chain and help return marketing leverage to cattle producers.”

USDA plans to host two informational webinars regarding the program on Feb. 28 and March 7.