Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced $115 million in USDA funding will go to increase independent meat processing capacity.

The USDA is giving 15 grants to projects in 17 states through two programs — the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP) and the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program (MPILP).

“While American farmers and ranchers have been responding to the demand to produce more, their communities have struggled to see their share of the benefits,” Vilsack said. “USDA is committed to championing meat and poultry processors, increasing competition and lowering costs for working families.”

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Created following calls to diversify the industry's production capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic, MPPEP aims to help independent meat and poultry processes expand. Similarly, MPILP makes grants available to lenders who “finance the start-up, expansion, or operation of independent meat and poultry processing facilities.”

Additionally, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is supporting educational programs to boost the meat processing workforce. Community colleges and tech schools in seven states will get $4.5 million through the Meat and Poultry Processing-Agricultural Workforce Training (AWT) program to develop, expand, and standardize meat and poultry processing training programs.

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