February 23, 2023

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) this week announced that it would invest $59 million across the country to lift independent meat and poultry processing capacity and expand market opportunities for farmers.

The regional investments support a Biden-Harris government plan aimed at delivering a fairer and more competitive meat and poultry supply chain. Dedicated resources to expand independent processing capacity is a key element. The idea is that more opportunities will be created for family farmers, with new jobs in rural areas and prices at grocery stores might even come down.

USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
Vilsack : “The USDA will continue to work to give farmers and ranchers a fair chance to compete in the marketplace.”

“For too long, American farmers and ranchers have been asked to produce more to meet increasing demand across the country and around the world, while they and the rural communities they come from have struggled to see their fair share of the benefits,” said USDA secretary Tom Vilsack.

He added: “The Biden-Harris administration and USDA are taking action to advance a sustainable vision of agriculture that prioritises the needs of our producers and small businesses. Through (these) investments, USDA will continue to work to give farmers and ranchers a fair chance to compete in the marketplace, which in turn helps lower food costs.”

Grants to five independent processors

Vilsack announced the new cash while touring a processing facility in Harrisonburg in Virginia that will be expanded thanks to the funding. The $59 million handout will be in the form of grants to five independent processors under the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program which is now closed.

For example, Riverbend Meats is receiving a $25 million grant to help build an environmentally friendly beef processing plant in Idaho Falls. The funding will also be used for custom equipment and installation of mainline gas piping. The project is expected to double the plant’s capacity from 300 head per day to 600, increasing the price ranchers receive for their cattle and, in theory, lowering costs for consumers.

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