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$900 Billion coronavirus relief bill includes $60 million for grants to small meat processors.

Local meat processors in your state could potentially benefit from these federal funds.

The $900 billion coronavirus relief package passed by the U.S. Congress in December included $60 million of grants for small meat processors to update and expand their facilities. The RAMP-UP Act (Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants) supports facility upgrades and planning grants to existing meat and poultry processors. The funding could help to expand meat processing capacity and build local food system infrastructure in your state. 

The funding can be used to help state-inspected plants move to federal inspection and sell their products across state lines. The legislation also requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to work with states and report on ways to improve the existing Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program (CIS).

CIS “promotes the expansion of business opportunities for state-inspected meat and poultry establishments. Under CIS, state-inspected plants can operate as federally-inspected facilities, under specific conditions, and ship their product in interstate commerce and internationally. Without CIS, a state-inspected plant is limited to sales within its own borders even if an adjoining state is just across the highway or river,” according the program website.

The CIS program is currently limited to plants located in the 27 states that have established a Meat and Poultry Inspection Program (MPI) and maintain “at least equal to” FSIS regulatory standards.

The COVID-19 relief package has an amended version of RAMP-UP that provides $60 million in grants to small meat and poultry processors. Grants can be used for modernizing or expanding facilities, modernizing equipment or for implementing other processes to ensure food safety. The relief package also includes direct support for cattle producers, establishment of a dealer trust, funding for agriculture quarantine inspection services and an extension of Livestock Mandatory Reporting.

Plants are eligible for up to $200,000 in grants that can be used to update or expand a small processing facility to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection standards. Updating to federal inspection standards would mean the meat could be sold across state lines. The bill was introduced as large meatpacking plants across the country shut down due to outbreaks of COVID-19 among employees, which caused supply chain disruptions for ranchers and consumers.

Due to state budget challenges in 2021 because of COVID-19 and the corresponding economic crisis, federal funding could be an important source of for business development in your state. 


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