Processing

US government delivers $115m in support for smaller meat processors

Beef Central, 04/07/2023

SMALLER meat and poultry processors in 17 US States will receive US$115 million (A$150m) in grants, the US Department of Agriculture announced last week, as the agency “continues efforts to shift a decades-long trend in consolidation in food production.”

The investment comes two years after 40 percent of US beef processing capacity was lost for some weeks due to COVID-related absenteeism, sickness or reduced plant manning levels. The event caused some food security alarm in the US and produced a brief, but dramatic spike in demand and prices for Australian imported beef.

USDA agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said the department was making the investments to increase US independent meat and poultry processing capacity, expand market opportunities for farmers and support a growing workforce in rural areas.

The announcement comes on the heels of President Biden’s address on ‘Bidenomics’ – his vision for growing the US economy from the middle out and bottom up, by “investing in America, increasing competition, and empowering workers.”

“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,” Secretary Vilsack said.

“Under the leadership of the Biden Administration, USDA is committed to championing meat and poultry processers, increasing competition and lowering costs for working families,” he said.

“This announcement highlights these producers and reflects the goals of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which advances a sustainable vision of agriculture, prioritises the needs of our producers and small businesses, promotes competition, strengthens US domestic agricultural supply chains and brings prosperity to people and places in rural parts of our country.”

USDA is providing five grants totalling $38m through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program to help independent processors in five states, and a further ten grants totalling $77m in 12 states under the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is also providing seven awards totalling $4.5m to community and technical colleges in seven states through the Meat and Poultry Processing–Agricultural Workforce Training program.

These investments are designed to build a pipeline of well-trained meat processing workers and support safe workplaces with fair wages for workers.

Some examples of projects in the announcement include:

  • In Montana, Mountain West Economic Development will use a $15m MPILP investment to support meat and poultry processing and slaughterhouse operations in Flathead Valley.
  • In Michigan, three independent businesses will use a $2 million MPPEP award to help construct and equip a meat and poultry processing and retail facility. Together, these activities are expected to increase demand for animals, increase opportunities for producers, and improve processing operations.
  • Farmers Union Foundation, a charitable organisation 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.

Background

Through the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden Administration had made “once-in-a-generation investments” in rural America, the USDA statement said.

These investments had provided USDA with an unprecedented number of resources to invest in rural communities and transform the US food system, and promote fair competition, innovation, and resiliency across food and agriculture.

“These announcements support the Biden Administration’s Action Plan for a fairer, more competitive, and more resilient meat and poultry supply chain, which dedicates resources to expand independent processing capacity and support workers,” it said.

 

Source: USDA

 

 

 

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