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$223M announced to expand meat processing and competition

Getty/iStockphoto Butcher processing meat
USDA unveils a series of financial assistance tools to support increasing meat and poultry processing capacity.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced an investment of $73 million in 21 grant projects through the first round of the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program.

The new investments will expand meat and poultry processing capacity – increasing competition, supporting producer income, and strengthening the food supply chain.

In addition, the Biden Administration is investing $75 million for eight projects through the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program, as well as more than $75 million for four meat and poultry-related projects through the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan program.

As President Biden highlighted earlier this year, creating fairer markets and more opportunities for family farmers helps bring down prices at the grocery store.

“By jumpstarting independent processing projects and increasing processing capacity, these investments create more opportunities for farmers and ranchers to get a fair price, while strengthening supply chains, delivering more food produced closer to home for families, expanding economic opportunity, and creating jobs in rural America,” says Vilsack.

Projects expand processing capacity

Vilsack made the announcement today at Greater Omaha Packing in Omaha, Nebraska. The packing plant is one of many facilities receiving funding. With the investment, Greater Omaha Packing will expand their beef processing capacity by 700 head per day. The project will also support an additional 275 jobs.

Other examples of projects getting USDA support through these investments include:

  • Montana Premium Processing Cooperative will provide independent producers in Montana with an option for a local USDA inspected meat processing facility in an area that is currently without Federally inspected processing.
  • Vermont Livestock Slaughter & Processing will revitalize and modernize their multi-species facility, tripling their throughput.
  • Cutting Edge Meat Company, a facility in Leakesville, Mississippi, will significantly increase their capacity and shorten the six-month backlog for processing currently facing producers. 

View a full list of awards under these programs.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association commends the USDA for the support. "Today, the cattle industry needs more targeted capacity in high-need areas, and we look forward to these facilities launching and expanding operations,” says NCBA senior director of government affairs Tanner Beymer. “We appreciate USDA working with NCBA to strengthen the marketplace and support America’s cattle producers.”

Vilsack and Ambassador Susan Rice will travel to Chippewa County, Wis. on Thursday where they will announce a significant investment being made by USDA to expand local and regional meat and poultry processing capacity in addition to an announcement highlighting the expansion of the Rural Partners Network.

More funding in the pipeline

These investments are part of the first round of funding made available through Phase I of MPEPP. Additional announcements are expected in the coming weeks.

USDA will also soon begin taking applications for a new phase to deploy an additional $225 million, for a total of up to $375 million, to provide gap financing for independent processing plant projects to diversify processing capacity.

In the first round of MPILP, $75 million was awarded to eight lenders in seven states. Applications for the second cycle ($125 million) are currently being accepted and are due Dec. 31, 2022.

Since the FSCGLP was launched in December 2021, more than $250 million in loans have been guaranteed for projects in the middle of the food supply chain. Four of these, announced today and totaling more than $75 million, are for meat and poultry processing businesses.

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