USDA Announces Funding to Expand Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity

Today, USDA announced it intends to make significant investments to expand processing capacity as a key step to increase competition in meat and poultry processing. Specifically, the Department intends to invest $500 million in expanding meat and poultry processing capacity as part of its efforts to build a more resilient supply chain and better food system. USDA also announced more than $150 million for existing small and very small establishments, including $100 million to reduce the financial burden of overtime inspection fees. This will allow these establishments to weather the effects of the pandemic, thereby enabling them to stay in the market and reach more customers. The full announcement is available at: https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2021/07/09/usda-announces-500-million-expanded-meat-poultry-processing.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021, enacted on March 11, 2021, provided USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) with the $100 million to reduce the amount of overtime and holiday inspection costs borne by official small and very small meat (including Siluriformes fish), poultry, or egg products establishments.

The fee reductions will be retroactive back to October 11, 2020, provided establishments submit the required form before the deadline of March 14, 2022. Establishments are encouraged to submit the form within 30 days of publication of the Federal Register notice announcing the fee reductions. The Federal Register notice and form are available at:https://www.fsis.usda.gov/policy/federal-register-rulemaking/federal-register-notices/overtime-and-holiday-inspection-fee.

Small and very small plants are critical to the nation’s food supply and USDA is working to strengthen and build fairer markets for these producers through critical infrastructure and business investments. To complement these efforts, FSIS continues to enhance outreach to assist small and very small establishments comply with food safety requirements. As directed by the 2018 Farm Bill, FSIS contracted with a land grant university to complete a report on the effectiveness of existing outreach, guidance, tools, and responsiveness to small and very small establishments. The report provided valuable recommendations FSIS will use as part of its ongoing efforts to strengthen technical assistance and tools to ensure these establishments are successful. The report is available at: www.fsis.usda.gov/news-events/publications/2020-report-guidance-and-outreach-small-and-very-small-meat-processors.