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USDA Opens Two Grant Programs For Underserved Producers


The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the availability of up to $125 million through two new grant programs.

These programs will create more options for meat and poultry farmers by investing in independent, local meat and poultry processing projects that increase competition and enhance the resiliency of the food supply chain.

They are part of the $1 billion American Rescue Plan investment by the Biden-Harris Administration to expand processing capacity for small and midsized meat and poultry processors.

“This is the latest step in USDA’s transformational work to fill gaps and help small and underserved producers market their products, support thriving local and regional food systems by investing in processing capacity that’s closer to farms and alleviate major bottlenecks in food and agricultural supply chains,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“Importantly, we’re also taking steps to increase the overall availability of protein from indigenous animals like bison, reindeer and salmon, which have been the backbone of tribal food systems for generations.”

Since July 2021, for example, USDA has worked with 30 businesses to expand its operations through meat and poultry processing expansion project grants and has helped many more work toward a federal grant of inspection through Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grants.

More information on USDA’s work to fulfill this commitment can be found at usda.gov/meat. Applications will be accepted through July 19.

The Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing grant program

This program will provide up to $50 million to improve tribal nations’ food and agricultural supply chain resiliency by developing and expanding value-added infrastructure related to meat from indigenous animals like bison, reindeer or salmon.

“This is a historic investment to support indigenous food supply chains by enhancing community food sovereignty and traditional harvesting methods,” said USDA Office of Tribal Relations Director Heather Dawn Thompson.

“Tribal nations have clearly articulated their priorities to USDA over the last two years, and this program responds by focusing on species and activities which have historically not had significant access to funding in federal programs.”

Eligible applicants are Indian tribes, as defined by the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994, as well as wholly-owned arms and instrumentalities and joint or multi-tribal government entities. More information is available on USDA’s Indigenous Animals Grants webpage

The Local Meat Capacity grant program

The program will provide up to $75 million in grants to fund projects designed to build resilience in the meat and poultry supply chain by providing producers with more local processing options and strengthening their market potential. It is targeted to support meat and poultry processors with smaller-scale projects, with a goal to increase processing availability and variety for local and regional livestock producers.

“Local and regional meat processing is an important part of a resilient food supply chain. It not only provides producers with diverse processing options in their areas, but it also adds infrastructure, income and jobs in communities and provides more choices for consumers,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt.

“These Local Meat Capacity grants will provide local livestock and poultry producers with more and better options by modernizing, diversifying and decentralizing processing capacity. As part of the Biden-Harris administration’s comprehensive approach to transforming the food system from farm to fork, this program complements other USDA grant programs building capacity along the supply chain – like the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program – by providing targeted support for meat and poultry processors with smaller-scale projects.”

The Local Meat Capacity Grants will fund both expansion and equipment-only projects through a competitive grant process. USDA encourages applicants to engage with livestock producers, especially small and underserved ranchers.

More information is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s Local MCap webpage.

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