USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday made an announcement on the increase in processing capacity as well as various loans and grants for new meat processing across the country.
Vilsack announced a $73 million investment through the first round of the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program. The funding supports 21 grant projects to expand meat and poultry processing capacity, increasing competition, supporting producer income, and strengthening the food supply chain to lower costs, according to USDA.
Vilsack also announced millions in new meat processing grants and loans as well. The goal is to boost processing capacity, competition, and rural jobs, while lowering food costs.
Vilsack, “All told, we’re talking about $223 million in grants and loans, over 32-awards in 19-states across the country. This compliments the $54 million previously invested in 266 facilities that now have expanded opportunities to sell beyond their own individual state, now, into interstate commerce.”
Secretary Vilsack says the impact could be significant; “We think it’s going to expand capacity in beef, pork and mixed processing by over 500,000 head per year, we think it will expand capacity in poultry, nearly 34 million birds per year. We anticipate and expect over 1,100 jobs to help to be created on an ongoing operational basis—and that doesn’t include the construction jobs, as a result of the expansion.”
Several Midwest states including Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska will see project grants.
Vilsack says more announcements are expected in coming weeks and USDA will soon take applications for up to 375 million to finance independent processing plant projects.