Harrisonburg, Virginia-based Farmer Focus received a $3.6 million grant as part of the second round of the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion program.
The grant will support a $17.8 million expansion of Farmer Focus’ organic chicken processing facility in Harrisonburg.
By doubling processing capacity over the next two years, this investment will enable Farmer Focus to welcome more family farmers into its farming family and create more than 300 new jobs for residents of the city and broader Rockingham County.
The USDA’s second round of MPPEP investment of $59 million, which the grant is part of, was announced Feb. 21 by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack during a visit to its headquarters.
During the visit, Secretary Vilsack was joined by USDA Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh; U.S. Senator Tim Kaine; Brian Shull, director of economic development for the city of Harrisonburg; Corwin Heatwole, CEO of Farmer Focus; and Stephen Shepard, president and COO.
After a tour of the company’s 78,000-square-foot packaging facility, the group was joined by the company’ farming partners Jules Maloney-Smith of River’s Edge Farm and Peyton Fravel of Peyton Fravel Farm to discuss the impact of the MPPEP grant and ways to create a more sustainable, equitable and resilient meat supply chain.
“The programs and money the Biden-Harris administration is committing can make a huge difference in providing opportunities to independent processors like Farmer Focus so we can build a more competitive meat industry and strong generational family farms while providing our consumers with the highest quality organic and humane certified chicken,” said Corwin Heatwole, founding farmer and CEO of Farmer Focus.
“Just a little over a year ago, I was invited to a White House Round Table where I had the unique opportunity to share my thoughts directly with President Biden and Secretary Vilsack on ways to increase competition within the meat industry. The MPPEP proves that our leaders in Washington are listening closely to the farming community, and are following through on their commitment to improve the lives and livelihood of America’s farmers and the resiliency of our food system.”
Additional recent milestones include:
- Farmer Focus is the No. 1 fastest-growing organic chicken brand in grocery stores in 2022 and the No. 2 organic chicken brand.
- With its recent retail expansion, it is distributed in more than 4,000 stores.
- The company received multiple industry and innovation awards within the last year, including Fast Company’s World-Changing Ideas, which seeks to elevate finished products and concepts that make the world better.
Available in stores throughout the East Coast and Midwest, including major retailers like Publix, Kroger, Harris Teeter, Safeway, Farmer Focus produces 100 percent USDA organic and humanely-raised chicken.