USDA announces $90M in investments towards independent meat processors
USDA recently made several big announcements as Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the National Farmers Union Conference. Among them, the next phase in a plan to boost the meat supply chain.
Vilsack announced nearly an additional $90 million to finance the startup and expansion of independent processors. The money will come in the form of grants and could reduce bottlenecks and create opportunities for rural America. Lenders in several states will use the money to establish revolving loans.
Secretary Tom Vilsack explained the importance of regional food business centers, an idea announced last fall to help farmers and ranchers explore new markets.
“There are 50 different programs within USDA that arguably support a local and regional food system. I’ve been Secretary for 10 years. I don’t know how in the heck we can expect any farmer to know, right? So you need a place and a number of places that you can go, literally, physically go or communicate with where there are people staffed that do know what those programs are, do know who the person is that you have to contact, do know what the application requires, do know what the qualifications are for a successful application,” said Vilsack.
Vilsack says the regional business centers would be a welcome addition to the Farm Bill, and he hopes they will become permanent.