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USDA announces resources to expand meat and poultry processing

Processors and applicants involved with the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant (MPIRG) program and the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP) can access new technical assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA is also now accepting applications for $23.6 million in competitive grant funding available through the MPIRG program.

Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grants (MPIRG)

AMS is accepting applications now through May 24, 2022, for a second round of MPIRG program funding totaling $23.6 million.

“We are building on the success of the first round of our MPIRG program to build capacity and increase economic opportunities for small and mid-size meat and poultry processors and producers around the country,” said Secretary Vilsack. “In the MPIRG program’s first round, we provided $32 million in funding to cover the costs for necessary improvements to achieve a Federal Grant of Inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or to operate under a state’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment program. And the second round will help us continue to help processors grow.”

USDA encourages grant applications that focus on improving meat and poultry slaughter and processing capacity and efficiency; developing new and expanding existing markets; increasing capacity and better meeting consumer and producer demand; maintaining strong inspection and food safety standards; obtaining a larger commercial presence; and increasing access to slaughter or processing facilities for smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, and veteran producers.

Eligible meat and poultry slaughter and processing facilities must be operational and not have a Federal Grant of Inspection or comply with the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program at the time of application. These entities include commercial businesses, cooperatives, and tribal enterprises.

MPIRG’s Planning for a Federal Grant of Inspection project type is for processing facilities currently in operation and are working toward Federal inspection.

MPIRG’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment Compliance project type is only for processing facilities located in states with a Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) CIS program. These states currently include Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Applicants must be working toward CIS program compliance requirements to operate a state-inspected facility or make a good faith effort toward doing so. Potential applicants should contact FSIS to determine the expenses necessary to obtain a Federal Grant of Inspection or comply with the CIS program.

Applications must be submitted electronically through grants.gov by May 24, 2022.

Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program (MPPTA)

As part of the Biden-⁠Harris Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has established cooperative agreements with three nonprofit organizations to coordinate and provide technical assistance utilizing a wide range of expertise and outreach strategies.

These organizations will also establish a national network of support for meat and poultry grant applicants to navigate the application process, and to assist grant recipients throughout their project.

“This is a true partnership to help meat and poultry processors and grant applicants diversify processing ownership throughout the country,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Meat and poultry processing is a complex sector that requires significant planning and forethought to manage economic viability concurrently with worker, food, and environmental safety. We are pleased to partner with these initial organizations, given their deep technical expertise and demonstrated service to underserved communities, as part of our support for fairer, more competitive, and resilient meat and poultry supply chains.”

Taking the lead role, the Flower Hill Institute, a Native owned nonprofit based out of the Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico, will serve as the MPPTA Technical Assistance Coordinator for this multi-year program. In close cooperation with AMS, they will connect USDA grant applicants and grant-funded project managers to the experts best suited to support a project’s needs. They are joined by Oregon State University’s Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network and the Intertribal Agriculture Council.

USDA is also pursuing agreements with the American Association of Meat Processors, the American Meat Science Association, and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute to expand assistance and provide the depth and capacity needed for meat and poultry projects nationwide.

All MPPTA organizations will use both in-house resources and their connections within the industry, academia, and state and federal government to connect stakeholders to four distinct technical assistance scopes: federal grant application management; business development and financial planning; meat and poultry processing technical and operational support; and supply chain development.

USDA is also extending to May 11, 2022, the application deadline for the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP), which provides funding to expand meat and poultry processing capacity.

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