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USDA awards $223 million to expand meat processing capacity

Trying to create “more, better and new markets” for U.S. producers, the Agriculture Department awarded a total of $223 million in grants, loans, and loan guarantees to expand meat and poultry processing capacity, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. Increased competition would support farmer income, said the USDA.

The awards included $73 million in grants to 21 projects in the first round of the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program, $75 million to eight projects through the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program and $75 million to four meat and poultry-related through the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program.

“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,” said Vilsack.

Among the projects aided by USDA funding was expansion of cattle slaughter by Greater Omaha Packing Co. by 700 head a day. The company, based in Omaha, Nebraska, currently processes 2,400 head daily. Some 275 jobs would be added with the expansion.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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