The USDA has announced two funding programs that will expand meat processing options for underserved and tribal communities.
The programs, the Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing Grant Program, and the Local Meat Capacity Grant Program, will be accepting applications through July 19, 2023. Up to $125 million is available through the two programs.
The goal is to enhance the reliability of the food chain, increase the resilience in the food and agricultural supply chain, and encourage more competition in the food system.
What is the Local Meat Capacity Grant Program?
This new program promises up to $75 million for innovative projects that provide producers with more local meat processing options and better market potential for local and regional, smaller-scale livestock and poultry producers. The USDA says the grants will go through a competitive process and fund expansions and equipment-only projects. Applicants are encouraged to work with livestock producers, with a focus on underserved ranchers.
Jenny Lester Moffitt, the USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs under secretary, said the grants will transform and rejuvenate the food system by targeting smaller-scale producers.
“Local and regional meat processing is an important part of a resilient food supply chain. It not only provides producers with diverse processing options in their areas, but it also adds infrastructure, income, and jobs in communities and provides more choices for consumers,” Moffitt added.
More information on applications and the grants themselves can be found here.
What is the Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing Grant Program?
This $50 million program for tribal nations will improve the food and agriculture supply chain for meat from indigenous animals like bison, reindeer, or salmon. Targeted projects will focus on expanding local capacity for harvesting, processing, and distribution of indigenous meats.
Native American tribes – as defined by the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994 – and joint or multi-tribal government entities are eligible. More information can be found here.
The USDA’s Under Secretary for Rural Development, Xochitl Torres Small, said that Native American farmers haven’t been able to benefit from the rising demand in indigenous meats.
“USDA is proud to offer this investment in tribal nations’ food chain resiliency as a part of USDA’s broader efforts to restore indigenous food ways. By expanding and enhancing local processing capacity, these projects will provide culturally appropriate food and community food security to tribal communities,” Torres Small said.
The USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations said that the grant is a result of tribal nations having “clearly articulated their priorities to USDA” over a two-year span. “This is a historic investment to support indigenous food supply chains by enhancing community food sovereignty and traditional harvesting methods,” said Office of Tribal Relations Director Dawn Thompson.