The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $32 million in the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant (MPIRG) program. Grants have been awarded to 167 meat and poultry slaughter and processing facilities through the program. The goal is to expand processing capacity and efficiency to help bolster the resiliency of the food supply chain.
“Today’s investment supports local and regional meat and poultry processors as they recover from the pandemic and also work to expand capacity,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “Achieving a Federal Grant of Inspection or operating under a Cooperative Interstate Shipment program allows meat and poultry processors to ship products across state lines, pursue new market opportunities, and better meet consumer and producer demand along the supply chain.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on meat and poultry facilities. Grant funding provided through the MPIRG program will assist businesses with some of the cost of facility improvements. Funding is being applied to the expansion of existing facilities and updating processing equipment. The grant funding will also help operations meet packaging, labeling, and food safety requirements needed to achieve a Federal Grant of Inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act. Grant assistance can also assist with the requirements for operating under a state’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.
The new MPIRG program was authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. It is being jointly administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Food Safety and Inspection Service. A total of $55.2 million in funding for the program was announced back in June. Remaining funding will be made available through a forthcoming request for grant applications. The MPIRG program was developed as part of USDA’s comprehensive funding package to address hardships endured by small and very small processing facilities as a result of the pandemic.