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324412

USDA pledges $215 million to grants and education for meatpacking expansion

The USDA announced it is making $215 million available to producers and meatpackers as grants and other support to expand meat and poultry processing options, strengthen the supply chain, and create opportunities in rural areas.

“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,” U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says. “The funding we’re announcing 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.”

Here’s how the money breaks down:

Meatpacking Expansion Program

  • $150 million in grants will be available to start-ups and for expansion of pre-existing packing plants.

The USDA is pledging $150 million through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program for start-ups and expansions of pre-existing packing plants. Applicants are eligible for up to $25 million each to expand processing capacity. The application deadline is April 11, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

The USDA encourages applications that benefit smaller packers, ranchers, and farmers, as well as applications that benefit tribes and tribal producers, socially disadvantaged producers, military veteran producers, and underserved communities.

There will be two webinars hosted for producers interested in learning more about the program. Those interested can visit rd.usda.gov/mppep for more information. 

Workforce Development

  • $40 million will go to workforce development and training.

An additional $40 million will be invested in existing workforce development programs to help meet the demand for well-trained workers in packing plants. These programs will be supported primarily at community, junior, and technical colleges with existing programs specifically for meat and poultry processing. Applications for this grant will be published in April 2022, and additional investments will be made by regional USDA and Extension networks. 

Technical Assistance

  • $25 million is being allocated for technical assistance to grant applicants and others seeking resources related to meat and poultry processing.

The USDA is helping to ensure those applying for grants through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program have access to full technical assistance through the entire process, including post-award. They are dedicating $25 million to making partnerships with organizations that provide technical assistance to applicants, 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.

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