U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the Biden-Harris Administration is investing $9.6 million across the country and taking several other steps to help farmers, ranchers, processors and rural businesses diversify the nation’s meat supply.
“USDA is putting the needs of farmers, ranchers and consumers at the forefront of the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to strengthen the resiliency of America’s food supply chain while promoting competition,” Vilsack said. “USDA has undertaken a Department-wide approach to coordinate ways to deliver more opportunities and fairer prices for producers, to give people access to healthier foods, eliminate bottlenecks in the food supply chain and ultimately lower prices for consumers.”
Secretary Vilsack announced 25 new investments to increase independent meat processing capacity.
The Department is awarding 23 Value Added Producer Grant program grants totaling $3.9 million to help producer-owned companies process and market new products. USDA is also providing guarantees for a total of $5.7 million in loans to two companies through the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program using American Rescue Plan funding. This program supports new investments in infrastructure for food aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storage, transportation, wholesaling and distribution.
Through these two programs, USDA is investing in 25 projects in California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
7 of the projects, totaling more than $1 million dollars, will be in Montana. The recipients include:
- Lane Legacy Beef
- Located in Ismay, MT, a rural community of less than 20 people. Lane Legacy is a family operated farm/ranch producing locally raised Black Angus cattle for high-quality, premium grass-fed beef. The operation targets sales to the local community, region, and neighboring states. The funding will assist with processing and marketing costs as it relates to the entry into the market. The operation is projected to grow to 100+ customers and increase $54,000 in sales during the grant period.
- Belcrest Farms
- Located just 15 miles from the heart of downtown Bozeman, Montana. Belcrest Farms is a small, family-owned operation. The business prides themselves on all-natural, dry-aged, ranch raised beef. Grant funds will be used for the value-added production of finished beef to packaged meat in the areas of product distribution, marketing, advertising, operations, and payroll.
- North of Nowhere Farm
- Operating near Opheim, a rural farming community in Northeastern Montana with a population of 75 people. The owners possess a shared belief that good health is dependent on good nutrition and healthy soil to produce a high-quality food commodity. The family operated farm utilizes regenerative agriculture practices when raising their grass-fed beef to produce high protein, nutritional beef sticks. The grant will provide funding assistance toward the processing costs with the intent to feature products in state-wide convenience stores. North of Nowhere is expected to increase sales by $50,000 and build customer base by 300 during the grant period.
- E&S Ranch
- E&S Ranch of Eureka, Montana operates as a direct-to-consumer beef business for grass-fed and grass-finished steers. The business intends to use Value-Added Producer Grant funds to assist in processing costs in their efforts to increase produce and support growing demand for the Flathead Valley.
- Pintler Mountain Beef
- A Direct to consumer business based out of Phillipsburg, MT, that sells antibiotic and hormone free, humanely raised, sustainable, wildlife-friendly premium grass-fed and grass-finished beef and other meat products. The operation will utilize funds to support efforts in processing and marketing expenses.
- Math Farms Beef
- Located in Whitewater, MT, Math Farms Beef sells 100 percent pure Angus beef that has been pasture-raised and grain finished. The grant will be used for processing, packaging, and marketing the beef as well as overhead expenses for the operation. The project is expected to create one job and save two.
- Todd Family Meats
- a family-owned operation, located in Big Timber, MT, producing packaged beef and lamb. The business plans to use funds for marketing, packaging, and processing to help assist their effort to meet growing demand.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said during a press call on Thursday he expects USDA will be making similar announcements within the next couple of months.
“The point of this is that we’re looking at a creative, comprehensive set of opportunities to expand more new and better market opportunities for meat and poultry,” Vilsack said.
“We’re going to continue to do this over the course of the next several months. As we utilize American Rescue Plan resources, we also expect at some point in time coming here in 2023 to also have a companion program that will focus on non-meat and poultry processing. So, it is an opportunity for us to continue to look for ways to help small- and mid-sized family operations to have additional market opportunities that will create hopefully more income for farmers, more choice for consumers and more jobs in rural areas.”