Why New USDA Funding Programs Could Have a Big Impact on South Jersey

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement of new rules and programs designed to promote competition in the U.S. economy – including the provision of $200 million to expand competition in meat processing and l $25 million investment in workforce training – could have a big impact in southern New Jersey.

USDA officials say the measures, aimed at carrying out President Joe Biden’s meat and poultry supply chain action plan introduced in January, are aimed at providing more support and resources to the supply chain. American food supply, while promoting fair and competitive agricultural markets, preventing abuses by farmers. by poultry processors and make prices fairer for American farmers and consumers.

Jane Asselta, New Jersey State Director for Rural Development, a mission area within the U.S. Department of Agriculture that provides assistance in the form of loans and grants to expand economic opportunity and create jobs in rural areas, said the new rules and regulations could have a big impact in the state.

“Today’s announcement from President Biden and Secretary of Agriculture (Tom) Vilsack provides more support, resources and new rules that will strengthen America’s food supply chain that benefits American producers, meat and poultry processors and ultimately consumers,” she said.

Asselta said among the resources impacting New Jersey is the Meat and Poultry Intermediate Loan Program for interested lenders, who are financing — or planning to finance — the start-up, expansion or expansion. meat and poultry processing operation.

MPILP will provide grants of up to $15 million to nonprofit lenders, including private nonprofits, cooperatives, public agencies, and tribal entities. These intermediaries will use this funding to establish a revolving loan fund to finance various activities related to meat and poultry processing. For example, businesses can use the loans to acquire land, build or expand facilities, and upgrade equipment.

These funds will provide much-needed financing to independent meat and poultry processors to start and expand their businesses. By introducing competition at this key point in the supply chain, these investments will help increase farmers’ incomes and lower prices for consumers.

Asselta said New Jersey’s meat and poultry producers can be characterized as predominantly small-scale, with less than 2% of farms accounting for 75% of livestock revenue. The State of New Jersey does not currently provide a location for these producers to process their animals.

“This program can offset the expense of transporting their animals out of state,” she said.

According to a Rutgers Agriculture Extension/New Jersey Department of Agriculture study, there are more than 5,000 livestock and poultry farmers in New Jersey who could work with intermediary lenders to finance the purchase and development of land, constructing a new facility or upgrading or expanding an existing facility, upgrading equipment or facilities to ensure the safety of food and other uses.

The first intermediary lender application window, which opened on Thursday, ends July 25, with award announcements in late September. The stakeholder webinars will take place on June 9 and 14. Details and application information for interested intermediaries can be found here.

The USDA also announced $25 million in investments in workforce training programs for meat and poultry processing workers with funding from American Rescue Section 1001. Plan Act. Targeted funding through new and existing National Institute of Food and Agriculture programs is designed to create and grow well-paying jobs that can strengthen the meatpacking industry by attracting and retaining employees.

NIFA runs two funding opportunities:

  • Extension risk management education and sustainable agriculture research education programs:An investment of $5 million will be split equally between the extension risk management education and sustainable agriculture research education programs. Work in these programs will support the development of meat and poultry processing training and educational materials for local needs, particularly relevant to small and medium-sized farmers and pastoralists. In addition, the training of local and/or regional meat and poultry workers presents a unique opportunity to meet the demand of niche markets, such as mobile processing units serving the market demand of fresh markets, the on-site processing, farm to fork (restaurants), grocers and others.
  • Community/Technical College Agricultural Workforce Training and Expanded Learning Opportunities: This investment in agricultural workforce training makes $20 million available to qualified community colleges to support workforce development programs in meat and poultry processing. The AWT program helps develop a field-ready workforce as well as industrial jobs in the food and agriculture sectors. By creating new workforce training programs or expanding, enhancing, or renewing existing workforce training programs at community, junior, and technical colleges and institutes, this program will broaden career opportunities. employment-based experiential learning, the acquisition of industry-accepted credentials and professional skills for students. to enable a workforce for the 21st century.
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