Landkamer: Building fairer access to USDA resources – InForum

After serving 25 years on the Blue Earth County Board of Commissioners and eight years as State Director of Rural Development under President Obama, my passion for learning about and representing the needs of rural communities continues to grow. Armed with this knowledge and motivation, I look forward to helping rebuild a better rural America under the leadership of President Biden.

The USDA strives to provide everyone with equitable access to federal resources. That means making more stuff right here at home, strengthening our supply chains, and lowering costs for working families. It means giving people the opportunity to earn a good living without having to leave the communities they know and love.

USDA expands opportunities by

providing $215 million

for the expansion of meat and poultry processing by qualifying processors.

When we think about building a more equitable food and agriculture system, we must consider everyone’s needs, including those in rural and remote communities. It is increasingly clear that local and regional food systems are largely supported by rural communities. To help our nation thrive in the wake of the pandemic, we need rural communities filled with jobs, businesses, quality housing, and opportunities for growth. This is where small and medium-sized meat processors can help boost rural economies.

New

Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP)

provides grants to help qualifying processors increase their capacity. USDA Rural Development designed the MPPEP to encourage competition and sustainable growth in the US meat processing sector, and to help improve supply chain resilience.

When the pandemic disrupted food and agricultural systems, USDA Rural Development was there, supporting critical infrastructure and small businesses with essential programs designed to help fund big projects.

Sole proprietorships or other entities that engage—or wish to engage—in meat and poultry processing can apply for MPPEP grants. Companies and entities that can apply include federally recognized tribes, non-profit and not-for-profit entities, corporations, cooperatives and producer-owned corporations, certified charitable corporations and entities state or local governments. Private entities must be independently owned and operated. All entities must be nationally owned and their meat and poultry processing facilities (existing or planned) must be physically located and operated in the United States or its territories.

Grant funds can be used to increase processing capacity by supporting activities such as building new processing facilities, upgrading processing facilities, developing, installing or upgrading equipment and technology. Grants can also be used to ensure compliance with packaging and labeling requirements, to pay for voluntary grading services for value-added processed products, and to support workforce recruitment, training, and retention. work.

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the USDA announced last December that

approximately $1 billion in loan guarantees

are also available for meat and poultry processors and food supply chain infrastructure. These loan guarantees will support private investments in food processing and supply infrastructure. See more program details at

rd.usda.gov/food-supply-chain-guaranteed-loans

.

The deadline for submitting an MPPEP grant application was

recently extended until 11:59 p.m. EST on May 11, 2022

.

I encourage interested applicants to contact our local program, contact Andrew Gag at [email protected] for any questions or application assistance. For assistance with any of the over 50 programs offered by Rural Development, you can contact our

local agency staff

.

When rural Minnesota communities, regardless of economic status, have clean water, a stable food supply chain, affordable housing, and jobs, our nation is safer. Because together we can rebuild a better America.

Colleen Landkamer is the Minnesota State Director of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Forum Editorial Board or the owners of the Forum.

Jennifer C. Burleigh