USDA invests in projects to further strengthen meat supply chain

The USDA announced that 25 projects will receive $9.6 million to help strengthen the resiliency of the country’s food supply chain.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack hosted a teleconference to announce the investment, and that the department is taking several additional steps to help farmers, ranchers, processors and rural businesses diversify the nation’s meat supply.

The department is awarding 23 grants totaling $3.9 million to help producer-owned companies process and market new products. The USDA is also providing guarantees for a total of $5.7 million in loans to two companies through the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program using American Rescue Plan funding.

Through these two programs, USDA is investing in 25 projects in California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

“More and better markets”
Despite a record year for net cash farm income, an Economic Research Service report shows not all farmers are feeling the monetary impact, Vilsack said during the press conference.

“I think it puts the emphasis on finding a way to create more new and better markets,” he said. “We have announced 22 projects that are either new or expanding processing capabilities for meat and poultry. You can expect more announcements in the next few months to increase that number.”

In October, the Biden administration unveiled $223 million in grants to increase competition and economic opportunities in the meat and poultry industry.

Examples of the funded projects include:

Bottomland Prime LLC will use a $4.95 million Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan to acquire and expand Edes Custom Meats, a cattle meat processing and retail outlet in Amarillo, Texas. Bottomland Prime projects its business will include custom USDA-inspected processing and cold storage services.
•In Kents Store, Va., Gillispie’s County Line Farm LLC is receiving a $44,000 Value Added Producer Grant to support the processing of pasture-raised chickens, cattle and hogs. The farm will sell the meat directly to retail consumers online and through farm sales.
Todd Family Meats in Big Timber, Mont., is receiving a $48,173 Value Added Producer Grant to increase its production of packaged beef and lamb to meet growing demand.

“USDA is putting the needs of farmers, ranchers and consumers at the forefront of the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to strengthen the resiliency of America’s food supply chain while promoting competition,” Vilsack said. “USDA has undertaken a Department-wide approach to coordinate ways to deliver more opportunities and fairer prices for producers, to give people access to healthier foods, eliminate bottlenecks in the food supply chain and ultimately lower prices for consumers.”