USDA announces grants for small meat processors
The Agriculture Department last week announced $55.2 million in competitive grant funding available through the new Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant (MPIRG) program that should allow smaller meat producers to be eligible for federal inspection.
“We are building capacity and increasing economic opportunity for small and midsized meat and poultry processors and producers across the country.” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
“Through MPIRG, meat and poultry slaughter and processing facilities can cover the costs for necessary improvements to achieve a Federal Grant of Inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or to operate under a state’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.”
USDA noted that MPIRG’s Planning for a Federal Grant of Inspection (PFGI) project is for processing facilities currently in operation and are working toward federal inspection. Applicants can be located anywhere in the states and territories.
USDA also said MPIRG’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) Compliance project is only for processing facilities located in states with a Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) CIS program.
These states currently include Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin. Applicants must be working toward CIS program compliance requirements to operate a state-inspected facility or make a good faith effort toward doing so.
The new program is funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and chair of the subcommittee last year, said, “We funded this grant program to help small meat processors access the federal inspection program, part of our broader efforts to improve market access and processing capacity to the benefit of both ranchers and consumers.”
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association claimed credit for the program.
“The chokepoint created by a lack of processing capacity is directly harming our producers and their ability to capture higher value for their product. NCBA has been engaging aggressively on this issue and we’re gratified to see the funds we fought to secure in December now going toward a top-priority need in our industry,” said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane in a news release.
“NCBA leadership has spoken directly with Secretary Vilsack about the need for more capacity in local and regional facilities, and we’ve been encouraged by the Secretary’s attention to this problem. This grant money will help ensure that we’re not just making big plants bigger, but actually expanding capacity in those smaller, independent facilities that our producers need as well.”
Applications must be submitted electronically through http://www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. ET on August 2.
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