Several industry groups have submitted formal comments to help guide the future of meat processing in the U.S. The comments were submitted in response to a request for information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding meat and poultry processing infrastructure. Groups including the National Farmers Union (NFU), North American Meat Institute, and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) all provided recommendations for strengthening the meat processing industry.
“This idea has been a top priority for our members for decades,” NFU President, Rob Larew said in a press release. “These investments are a critical component of President Biden’s Executive Order on competition and represent an important step forward in achieving a more diverse and secure food supply chain and agricultural economy.”
In its comments, NFU points out that addressing concentration in the meat processing sector is critical moving forward. NFU encouraged USDA to implement closer monitoring of the industry and prevent further consolidation and expansion of the largest processors. Other considerations NFU highlighted were the need for offering technical assistance and expanding partnership opportunities to maximize the efficacy of funding support.
NASDA has suggested that funding be allocated for solutions to address a shortage of labor through actions such as investment in training programs. The association is calling for more robust training and apprenticeship programs to be made available in the meat processing sector. Other recommendations include offering funding opportunities for small and mid-sized processors to update equipment and facilities.
“Having re-assembled our food supply chains in response to each hurdle the COVID-19 pandemic has presented, NASDA members deeply understand the connection between diversity in production and food system resiliency,” NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn said in a news release. “We must do all we can to support our small meat processors now and invest in their ability to stand on their own into the future.”