USDA announces funding to expand meat and poultry processing

The funding is available for underserved producers, tribal communities
calendar icon 2 April 2023
clock icon 4 minute read

in mid-April, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of up to $125 million through two new grant programs that 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.

These new grant programs, the Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing Grant Program and the Local Meat Capacity Grant Program, are part of the broader $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.”

The Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing Grant 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. Theprogram will fund projects that focus on expanding local capacity for the harvesting, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling or distribution of indigenous meats.

“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 directly responds by focusing on species and activities which have historically not had significant access to funding in federal programs.”

“For too long, Native American farmers and ranchers have been asked to produce more to meet increasing demand across the country and around the world, while they and the tribal communities they come from have struggled to see their fair share of the benefits,” said USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small. “Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is proud to offer this investment in tribal nations’ food chain resiliency as a part of USDA’s broader efforts to restore indigenous food ways. By expanding and enhancing local processing capacity, these projects will provide culturally appropriate food and community food security to tribal communities.”

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. USDA partners with tribal-serving organizations on projects to reimagine federal food and agriculture programs from an indigenous perspective and inform future USDA programs and policies.

The Local Meat Capacity Grant program will provide up to $75 million in grants to fund innovative 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. This grant program 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.

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