Fifteen businesses in 17 states were awarded $115 million to help expand independent meat and poultry processing capacity, USDA said in an announcement on Thursday.
Back in November 2022, USDA announced $223 million in grants and loans also to expand meat and poultry processing. According to USDA, about $357 million has been spent on loans and grants by the Biden administration in an attempt to grow meatpacking competition.
In the latest round, USDA is providing five awards totaling $38 million through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program to help independent processors in five states. USDA is also providing 10 awards totaling $77 million in the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program in 12 states.
In addition, the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is awarding $4.5 million to community and technical colleges in seven states through the Meat and Poultry Processing Agricultural Workforce Training program.
“While American farmers and ranchers have been responding to the demand to produce more, their communities have struggled to see their share of the benefits,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a news release.
“Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is committed to championing meat and poultry processers, increasing competition and lowering costs for working families.”
The focus on meatpacking competition stems from supply chain problems that hit livestock producers and consumers during the peak of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
President Joe Biden started in 2022 meeting with producers and laying out his administration’s plan to invest as much as $1 billion to expand competition in the meatpacking industry.
Among the fund recipients is Montana West Economic Development in Montana, that received $15 million to support meat and poultry processing and slaughterhouse operations in Flathead Valley.
In Michigan, three businesses will use a $2 million award to help construct and equip a meat- and poultry-processing and retail facility.
Mighty Fine Poultry Processing, LLC will slaughter and process poultry; Retro Meats Company, LLC will process red meat; and Swift Run Market, LLC also will process and sell meat products.
Farmers Union Foundation, a charitable organization that provides resources for rural economic development, will use an $800,000 award to lend funds to independent small- and medium-sized meat processors in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
The funding announcement covers projects in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
According to USDA, in fiscal year 2023 the agency has awarded $171 million to 31 projects that have created nearly 3,000 jobs in rural communities.