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USDA Acts to Expand Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity

New program to provide technical assistance to grant applicants, grant-funded projects
Photograph: Shutterstock

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced March 25 additional resources to help increase and expand meat and poultry processing capacity, including the Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program (MPPTA), which provides technical assistance to grant applicants and grant-funded projects.

The news happened to come on the heels of officials in Iowa declared a state of "disaster emergency," limiting the sale, swapping and exhibition of poultry in response to the continuing spread of bird flu in the United States, according to news reports. Thus far, bird flu has been found in commercial and backyard flocks in 17 states, including New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky and Maine.

The MPPTA program, a part of the Biden-Harris Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain, enlists the help of three not-for-profit organizations—the Flower Hill Institute, Oregon State University’s Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network and the Intertribal Agricultural Council—that will use their expertise and outreach strategies to coordinate and provide technical assistance. The groups will also establish a national network of support for meat and poultry grant applicants to navigate the application process and assist grant recipients throughout their project.

Processors involved in the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant program, as well as the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program, can access the technical assistance.

“This is a true partnership to help meat and poultry processors and grant applicants diversify processing ownership throughout the country,” said Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack. “Meat and poultry processing is a complex sector that requires significant planning and forethought to manage economic viability concurrently with worker, food and environmental safety.”

The Flower Hill Institute, a Native-owned not-for-profit based out of the Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico, will take the lead and serve as the MPPTA technical assistance coordinator for this multiyear program.

The USDA said it is pursuing additional agreements with the American Association of Meat Processors, the American Meat Science Association and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute to expand assistance in the program.

Through May 24, the USDA is also accepting applications for a second round of Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant (MPIRG) program funding totaling $23.6 million. The USDA encourages grant applications that focus on improving meat and poultry slaughter and processing capacity and efficiency; developing new and expanding existing markets; increasing capacity and better meeting consumer and producer demand; maintaining strong inspection and food safety standards; obtaining a larger commercial presence; and increasing access to slaughter or processing facilities for smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, and veteran producers.

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