As part of the Build Back Better initiative and 2021 Consolidated Appropriation Funding, USDA announced competitive funding of $ 55.2 million as part of a broader commitment to invest more than $ 4 billion to strengthen the food system and improve meat processing capacity.
The competitive grant is available under the new Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grants program. USDA encourages applications for grants focused on improving the capacity and efficiency of meat and poultry slaughtering and processing; develop new existing markets and expand; increase capacity and better meet consumer and producer demand; maintaining strict inspection and food safety standards; achieve greater commercial presence; and increasing access to slaughter or processing facilities for small farms and ranches, novice and novice farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers and seasoned producers. Eligible meat and poultry slaughtering and processing facilities include commercial enterprises, cooperatives, and tribal enterprises.
âWe are building capacity and increasing economic opportunities for small and medium-sized meat and poultry processors and producers across the country,â Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. âThrough MPIRG, meat and poultry slaughtering and processing facilities can cover the costs of upgrades necessary to obtain a federal inspection grant under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Meat Inspection Act. inspection of poultry products, or to operate as part of a state cooperative interstate shipping program.
The program structure is notably similar to the RAMP UP law – Requireing Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants – introduced in July 2020 by a bipartite group of members of the House Agriculture Committee. The RAMP-UP act was intended to give processors the tools to become federally inspected facilities, expanding their customer base while maintaining strict inspection standards.
MPIRG’s Federal Inspection Grant Planning Project is for currently operating processing facilities and is working on Federal Inspectorate. Applicants can be located anywhere in the states and territories. Whereas, MPIRG’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment Compliance project is only for processing facilities located in states with a Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) CIS program. These states currently include Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Applicants must work to CIS program compliance requirements to operate a state-inspected facility or make a good faith effort to do so.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association vice president of government affairs Ethan Lane said NCBA leadership spoke directly with Vilsack about the need for more capacity at local and regional facilities, and they were encouraged by the secretary’s attention to this problem.
âThis grant will help ensure that we are not just expanding the big factories, but actually increasing the capacity of those smaller independent facilities that our producers also need,â Lane said.
Both cattle supply and demand for American beef are strong, but the bottleneck in the middle caused by a lack of space for hooks has stifled producer profitability and created unsustainable market momentum, according to the NCBA.
âThe bottleneck created by a lack of processing capacity directly harms our producers and their ability to capture higher value for their product. The NCBA has aggressively engaged on this issue and we are delighted to see that the funds we fought for in December are now going to a priority need in our industry, âLane said.
Applications should be submitted electronically via www.grants.gov no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, August 2, 2021. Any grant application submitted after the deadline will not be considered unless the applicant provides documentation of a mitigating circumstance that prevented him from submitting his grant application on time.
AMS offers webinars to applicants to help them track the application. In addition, grant management specialists are on hand to answer all inbound questions and emails during regular business hours. For more information on grant eligibility and program requirements, visit the MPIRG web page, or contact USDA staff at [email protected]