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USDA to increase & expand meat processing capacity


The U.S. Department of Agriculture has launched the Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program to provide technical assistance to meat and poultry grant applicants and grant-funded projects.

Processors and applicants involved with the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant program and the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program can access this technical assistance. The USDA also announced it is now accepting applications for $23.6 million in competitive grant funding available through the MPIRG program.

Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has established cooperative agreements with three non-profit organizations to coordinate and provide technical assistance utilizing a wide range of expertise and outreach strategies. These organizations will also establish a national network of support for meat and poultry grant applicants to navigate the application process, and to assist grant recipients throughout their project.

Taking the lead role, the Flower Hill Institute, a native owned nonprofit based out of the Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico, will serve as the MPPTA Technical Assistance Coordinator for this multi-year program. In close cooperation with AMS, they will connect USDA grant applicants and grant-funded project managers to the experts best suited to support a project’s needs. They are joined by Oregon State University’s Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network and the Intertribal Agricultural Council. The USDA is also pursuing agreements with the American Association of Meat Processors, the American Meat Science Association, and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute to expand assistance and provide the depth and capacity needed for meat and poultry projects nationwide.

All MPPTA organizations will use both in-house resources and their connections within the industry, academia, and state and federal government to connect stakeholders to four distinct technical assistance scopes: federal grant application management; business development and financial planning; meat and poultry processing technical and operational support; and supply chain development.

Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grants

The AMS is accepting applications now through May 24, 2022 for a second round of MPIRG program funding totaling $23.6 million.

“We are building on the success of the first round of our MPIRG program to build capacity and increase economic opportunities for small and mid-sized meat and poultry processors and producers around the country,” U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “In the MPIRG program’s first round, we provided $32 million in funding to cover the costs for necessary improvements to achieve a Federal Grant of Inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or to operate under a state’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment program. And the second round will help us continue to help processors grow.”

The USDA encourages grant applications that focus on improving meat and poultry slaughter and processing capacity and efficiency; developing new and expanding existing markets; increasing capacity and better meeting consumer and producer demand; maintaining strong inspection and food safety standards; obtaining a larger commercial presence; and increasing access to slaughter or processing facilities for smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, and veteran producers.

Eligible meat and poultry slaughter and processing facilities must be operational and not have a Federal Grant of Inspection or comply with the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program at the time of application. These entities include commercial businesses, cooperatives, and tribal enterprises. MPIRG’s Planning for a Federal Grant of Inspection project type is for processing facilities currently in operation and are working toward Federal inspection. Applicants can be located anywhere in the states and territories. MPIRG’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment Compliance project type is only for processing facilities located in states with a Food Safety Inspection Service CIS program. These states currently include Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin. Applicants must be working toward CIS program compliance requirements to operate a state-inspected facility or make a good faith effort toward doing so. Potential applicants should contact FSIS to determine the expenses necessary to obtain a Federal Grant of Inspection or comply with the CIS program.

Applications must be submitted electronically through by 11:59 p.m. ET May 24, 2022. For more information about grant eligibility and previously funded projects, visit the MPIRG webpage.

The USDA is also extending to May 11, 2022, the application deadline for the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program, which provides funding to expand meat and poultry processing capacity. 

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