NCBA Cheers USDA Grant Program to Help Small Beef Processors Ramp Up Their OperationsWed, 23 Jun 2021 06:01:15 EDT
Tthe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Monday the creation of two new, competitive grant funding opportunities for small, regional, and independent meat processors using funds the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) worked to secure at the end of last year. After fighting hard for several key priorities for cattle producers in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, NCBA praised USDA for putting $55.2 million of those funds toward the critical need for greater beef processing capacity.
The competitive grant funding will be available through the new Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant (MPIRG) program. The funds will support small beef processing facilities making the improvements necessary to achieve a Federal Grant of Inspection, or to operate under their state's Cooperative Interstate Shipment program. The structure of the program is notably similar to the RAMP UP Act(lead author of that measure was Congressman Frank Lucas), language that NCBA worked hard to get included in the appropriations bill that is now funding USDA's efforts.
"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. "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 for funding must be submitted online at www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. EDT on Monday, Aug. 2.
The supply of cattle and the demand for U.S. beef are both strong, but the bottleneck in the middle caused by a lack of hook space has stifled producer profitability and created unsustainable market dynamics. On an agriculture industry call earlier this month, Secretary Vilsack underscored greater processing capacity as a key component of USDA's $4 billion Build Back Better Initiative. On the call, NCBA CEO Colin Woodall and Sec. Vilsack discussed the need to bring federal inspection within reach for more facilities, which directly ties to the grants announced today.
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