USDA is working to build a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain
White House Factsheet
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USDA investing $1B in expanding meat and poultry processing capacity
In July 2021, USDA issued a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit public input into its strategy to improve meat and poultry processing infrastructure and will hold targeted stakeholder meetings and other public engagement to better understand the needs, gaps, and barriers to fair and competitive meat processing markets.
USDA received nearly 450 comments in response to the Request for Information.
- Open Programs
Meat and Poultry Processing Technical Assistance
The Meat and Poultry Processing Technical Assistance (MPPTA) program ensures that participants in USDA’s Meat and Poultry Supply Chain initiatives have access to full-range technical assistance to support their project development and success. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is investing up to $25 million to establish a nationwide MPPTA network of support in four key areas: federal grant application management, business development and financial planning, meat and poultry processing technical and operation support, and supply chain development.
AMS has cooperative agreements with six non-profit organizations to serve as TA providers for the MPPTA program with the Flower Hill Institute serving as the overall Technical Assistance Coordinator. Interested parties are encouraged to reach out directly to the Flower Hill Institute to discuss their technical assistance needs.
Meat and Poultry Processing Workforce Development Program
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced an investment of $20 million investment for Agricultural Workforce Training available to qualified community colleges to support meat and poultry processing workforce development programs. Deadline is September 22, 2022.
NIFA also announced $4 million meat and poultry processing workforce development grants for Hispanic-serving Institutions. The deadline is August 29, 2022.
Collectively, the meat and poultry processing workforce development program investments will build a pipeline of well-trained workers and support the creation and/or management of small-scale meat or poultry processing plants.
Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program
The Food Supply Chain (FSC) Guaranteed Loan program uses $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding to make approximately ~$1.4 billion in guaranteed loans. Applications for these guaranteed loans – up to $40 million – will be accepted until all program funds are expended.
How to Apply
These funds are designed to back private lenders that invest in independently owned food processing and distribution infrastructure. From cold storage to specialized equipment, building a more distributed and resilient food system requires independent producers to have access to food processing and distribution infrastructure that enables them to move their product throughout the supply chain.
Reduce Overtime and Holiday Inspection Costs for Small and Very Small Processing
The Reduce Overtime and Holiday Inspection Costs for Small and Very Small Processing program provides $100 million to help small and very small processing plants keep up with unprecedented demand.
How to Apply
In the American Rescue Plan Act, Congress provided the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) with $100 million in budget authority to reduce the costs of overtime and holiday inspection for small and very small official meat and poultry establishments and egg products plants. FSIS is implementing this provision by reducing overtime and holiday inspection fees for small establishments by 30 percent and very small establishments by 75 percent.
- Coming Soon
Additional financial assistance grants
USDA will make an additional $225 million available in grants to meat and poultry processors. This new program will include support for projects in the earlier stages of development. Please sign up to receive emails from Rural Development who will send information on the program when it opens.
Improved access to capital
As a continuation of its efforts to strengthen the financing systems for independent processors, USDA will make an additional $75 million available to, in partnership with lenders, improve access to financing for meat and poultry processors.
Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program – Round 2
An additional $125 million grant funding will be available to intermediary lenders who finance – or plan to finance – the start-up, expansion, or operation of slaughter, or other processing of meat and poultry. The objective of the MPILP is to strengthen the financing capacity for independent meat processors, and to create a more resilient, diverse, and secure U.S. food supply chain.
USDA will invest an estimated $25 million in research and development to help independent business owners, entrepreneurs, producers, and other groups, such as cooperatives and worker associations, create new or expand existing processing capacity.
Meat and poultry processors need access to new and emerging innovative practices and technologies.
- Pending Award Announcements
Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program
The application period for the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP) closed on May 11, 2022, and applications are currently being processed by the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Awards will be announced later this year.
This program provides grants to help eligible processors expand their capacity. USDA Rural Development designed MPPEP to encourage competition and sustainable growth in the U.S. meat processing sector and to help improve supply chain resiliency.
Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program – Round 1
The second round of the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program closed on July 25, 2022, for funding in the amount of $75 million. These applications are currently being processed awards will be announced later this year. The objective of the MPILP is to strengthen the financing capacity for independent meat processors, and to create a more resilient, diverse, and secure U.S. food supply chain. This program is administered by the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
Meat and Poultry Workforce Development Program
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is awarding specified universities grants of up to $15 million to support agricultural workforce training for historically underserved communities. This investment will develop or enhance existing meat and poultry programs through 1890 Land-grant Universities Centers of Excellence ($4M), 1994 Land-grant Colleges ($4M), Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian ($2M), and Resident Instruction Grants Program for Institutions of Higher Education in Insular Areas ($1M). Hispanic-serving Institutions have a competitive process to access $4 million in grants Additionally, an investment of $5 million is directed to and will be split equally between Extension Risk Management Education and Sustainable Agriculture Research Education programs. Work in these programs supports development of meat and poultry processing training and educational materials for place-based needs, particularly relevant to small- or medium-sized farmers and ranchers.
- Award Announcements
Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grants – Round 2
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) awarded an additional $21.9 million in grants to 111 grant projects through the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant Program (MPIRG), bringing total funding to $54.6 million. This second round of awards will fund projects in 37 states and will help strengthen and develop new market opportunities for meat and poultry processors throughout the United States.
Facility improvements and expansions funded through MPIRG will help processors obtain a Federal Grant of Inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), the Poultry Productions Inspection Act (PPIA), or to operate under a state’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) program that will allow meat and poultry processors to ship products across state lines, develop new markets, increase capacity, and better meet consumer and producer demand along the supply chain.
MPIRG recipients and other eligible participants, especially small and underserved stakeholders, in USDA’s Meat and Poultry Supply Chain initiatives are encouraged to take advantage of the broad technical assistance offered through USDA’s Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program (MPPTA). AMS has cooperative agreements with six organizations to form the MPPTA network, which has already provided valuable assistance to over 300 businesses and organizations across the U.S. and its territories since its launch this year in March.
For more information about this technical assistance and the organizations involved, and to initiate a request for assistance, visit AMS’s MPPTA Webpage.
Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grants – Round 1
In its first round of funding for the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grants (MPIRG) Program, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) awarded $32 million in grants to 167 meat and poultry slaughter and processing facilities to support expanded capacity and efficiency.
With this grant funding, meat and poultry processing businesses can cover the costs for improvements such as expanding existing facilities, modernizing processing equipment, and meeting packaging, labeling, and food safety requirements needed to achieve a Federal Grant of Inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), the Poultry Productions Inspection Act (PPIA), or to operate under a state’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) program. These changes will allow these facilities to serve more customers in more markets.
USDA strengthening the rules and enforcement to support farmers and ranchers
In 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Promoting Competition in America’s Economy that directed USDA and other agencies to robustly police U.S. markets, including in agriculture, where “consolidation... is making it hard for small family farms to survive.”
- A Plan In Support of Fair and Competitive Markets
USDA has published the report, “Agricultural Competition: A Plan In Support Of Fair And Competitive Markets” that sets out USDA’s strategies to increase competition through investing in new competitors to address major bottlenecks in the food and agricultural supply chains, in particular meat and poultry processing and domestic fertilizer capacity. It also highlights USDA’s comprehensive efforts to reinvigorate competition and fair market regulation and oversight, and USDA’s efforts to enhance value-added competitive opportunities for producers, including the already-announced top-to-bottom review of the “Product of USA” label for beef and a newly announced review of animal-raising claims, among many other strategies and efforts.
- Partners in Fair and Competitive Markets
USDA takes seriously our obligations to work closely with our partners at the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and other White House Competition Council member agencies, to fully utilize laws and regulations already on the books, and to bring bad actors to account.
USDA-DOJ have developed a portal called Farmer Fairness where you can file a complaint or tip if you suspect a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act or any other Federal law governing fair and competitive marketing and contract growing of livestock and poultry.
- A Modern Set of Packers and Stockyards Rules
USDA is preparing new proposed rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act to address poultry contracting and tournaments, unfair practices and undue preferences, and the harm to competition burdens from the courts. USDA withdrew the pre-existing inactive rule on tournaments in order to restart open dialogue with stakeholders and put forward a revamped rule in 2022.
USDA is working to promote transparency in poultry production contracting and to give poultry growers and prospective poultry growers relevant information with which to make business decisions.
USDA has proposed revisions to the regulations under the Packers and Stockyards Act to revise the list of disclosures and information live poultry dealers must provide to poultry growers and sellers as part of poultry growing arrangements and to establish additional disclosure requirements to determine settlement payments for poultry growers in connection with the use of poultry grower ranking, or tournament, systems by live poultry dealers. USDA seeks public comments to this proposed rule.
USDA is issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to gather comments and information to help USDA develop policy and future rulemaking proposals regarding the use of poultry grower ranking systems commonly known as tournaments in contract poultry production. AMS seeks this input in response to numerous complaints from poultry growers about the use of tournament systems. Comments in response to this request would help AMS tailor further rulemaking in addition to that already planned and under way to address specific industry practices in relation to tournament systems.
Even while the new rules are being crafted, USDA is committed to the enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act to the maximum extent possible under current conditions. In August 2021, USDA announced a new enforcement policy that represents a significant pivot from the 2020 undue preferences rule and highlights how we intend to enforce the Packers and Stockyard Act to the maximum extent possible even while the new rules are being completed.
- Product of USA/Consumer Transparency
USDA is already hard at work clarifying the “Product of USA” label for beef. As USDA noted in its announcement, American consumers depend upon accurate, transparent labels to obtain important information about the food they consume. American farmers and ranchers depend upon those same labels to convey information about their products that consumers value and demand. USDA is working to conduct consumer testing and economic analysis to support a rulemaking on the voluntary “Product of USA” label.
- Price Transparency and Fairness in Livestock Trading
USDA remains committed to enhancing the transparency, price discovery function, and the fairness of the livestock markets using traditional Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) tools. In August of 2021, AMS through its Market News service announced two new reports that enhanced transparency in cattle markets for cattle traded today through contractual arrangements outside of the cash negotiated spot markets. And more research is underway to evaluate whether additional forms of transparency may further enhance market functioning.