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WASHINGTON — The USDA has announced $55.2 million in competitive grant funding available through the new Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant (MPIRG) program. The new program is funded by 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,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture 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.”

USDA encourages grant applications that focus on improving meat and poultry slaughter and processing capacity and efficiency; developing new and expanding existing markets; increasing capacity and better meeting consumer and producer demand; maintaining strong inspection and food safety standards; obtaining a larger commercial presence; and increasing access to slaughter or processing facilities for smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, and veteran producers. Eligible meat and poultry slaughter and processing facilities include commercial businesses, cooperatives, and tribal enterprises.

MPIRG’s Planning for a Federal Grant of Inspection (PFGI) project is for processing facilities currently in operation and are working toward Federal inspection. Applicants can be located anywhere in the states and territories.

MPIRG’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) Compliance project is only for processing facilities located in states with a Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) CIS program. These states currently include Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin. Applicants must be working toward CIS program compliance requirements to operate a state-inspected facility or make a good faith effort toward doing so, the department said.

Applications must be submitted electronically through www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, Aug. 2, 2021. Any grant application submitted after the due date will not be considered unless the applicant provides documentation of an extenuating circumstance that prevented their timely submission of the grant application.

This announcement is part of the Build Back Better initiative, a commitment to invest more than $4 billion to strengthen the food system, support food production, improved processing, investments in distribution and aggregation, and market opportunities. 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 Build Back Better Initiative and this announcement are aligned with the administration’s broader work on strengthening the resilience of critical supply chains as directed by Executive Order 14017 America's Supply Chains, the department added. USDA’s efforts to strengthen the food system dovetail with the administration’s whole of government response to address near-term supply chain challenges to the economic recovery via the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, of which Vilsack is a member.

Through this Task Force the administration is convening stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions — large and small, public or private — that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints related to the economy’s reopening after the Administration’s historic vaccination and economic relief efforts.

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