Sunday, July 18, 2021

USDA unveils plan to help build small meat processing plants

 The federal government promised Friday to spend $500 million to encourage the construction of smaller meat processing plants located closer to farmers who raise chickens, pigs and cows with the goal of diversifying an industry now largely run by a small number of large corporations.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the program in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in addition to another $150 million to be used for existing small processing facilities with unexpected costs. The goal is to help them recover from the coronavirus pandemic and compete better in the marketplace.

Vilsack said he wants to improve profitability for livestock farmers and better serve consumers who increasingly want to know where and how farm animals are raised.

Vilsack said COVID-19 exposed a food system “that was rigid, consolidated, and fragile.” He said President Joe Biden is determined to shift the balance of power back to the people by investing in building better and fairer markets for producers and consumers.

The money, including the $500 million, comes from the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion aid package passed by Congress and signed by Biden in March. It will provide grants, loans, and technical assistance to help build new meat and poultry processing facilities. Vilsack said it is his hope to have projects in the works by early next year...MORE

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