USDA seeks comments on $500 million in meat processing grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants your help in deciding how best to invest $500 million to help diversify and increase competition in the meat packing industry.

The money is part of the administration’s efforts to support the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy that President Joe Biden signed July 9. The order directed USDA to “develop a range of strategies to enhance the competitive landscape in American agriculture.”

As the administration explains in a supplementary information notice attached to the request for information that was published in the Federal Register, “Decades of increasing concentration in the meat and poultry processing sector have harmed farmers and ranchers and created a bottleneck and vulnerability in America’s food supply chain. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this bottleneck grew tighter when massive disruptions occurred across livestock operations, processing facilities and retail, with some consumers experiencing constrained supplies of meat and poultry products due to processing shortage and panic buying.”

The USDA says it is looking at existing programs as well as new programs, and combinations of programs that can leverage the funds in combination with state and local and private investment sources to “expand and diversify meat and poultry processing capacity and make the supply chain more resilient.” The USDA is seeking input from producers as well as “meat and poultry processor, food supply chain workers, not-for-profits, trade associations, commodity boards, state and local governments” and others.

The USDA held a stakeholder’s call Aug. 12 whose hosts included Liz Archuleta, director of the USDA’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Mae Wu, deputy undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs at USDA. Presenters heard from a variety of stakeholders, including meat and poultry producers and processors from across the country.

To find out more and add your comments, visit the RFI at

David Murray can be reached at [email protected]