The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Monday that it is spending $55.2 million in grants as part of an effort to bolster inspections for meat and poultry, specifically, to expand access to inspections and increase capacity. The funds will be available through the new Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant program and is funded through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
“We are building capacity and increasing economic opportunity for small and midsized meat and poultry processors and producers across the country.” 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.”
The grant program includes a project for processing facilities working toward federal inspections, and a project for processing facilities located in states with a Cooperative Interstate Shipment program which are working towards compliance with the program. Applications for the grant program must be submitted by August 2, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service offers webinars to help with the applications.
The USDA specified in its announcement that it is looking for applications that focus on improving processing capacity and efficiency, expanding markets, meeting demand, maintaining high standards, and increasing the accessibility of small and new farms and ranches to slaughter and processing facilities.
This USDA grant program is part of the Build Back Better initiative, which also includes COVID-19 pandemic aid for producers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. “Through the Build Back Better initiative, USDA will help to ensure the food system of the future is fair, competitive, distributed, and resilient; supports health with access to healthy, affordable food; ensures growers and workers receive a greater share of the food dollar; and advances equity as well as climate resilience and mitigation,” the press release said.