USDA Rural Development’s “Meat & Poultry Processing Expansion Program” Builds on Spanberger’s Bipartisan “Butcher Block Act” by Providing Grants and Loans to Small Processors
WOODBRIDGE, V.A. — Following years of advocacy from U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this week announced a $59 million investment across the country to help independent meat and poultry processors expand capacity.
After hearing directly from Virginia meat and poultry processors about their challenges, Spanberger has consistently worked to help Virginia’s small and mid-sized processors increase their hiring and processing capacity. In June 2021, Spanberger first introduced her bipartisan Butcher Block Act, which would make grant programs for smaller processors permanent. Spanberger reintroduced her bipartisan bill last month.
In 2021, USDA responded to Spanberger’s leadership on the Butcher Block Act by creating the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP), which is based on provisions in her Butcher Block Act.
“These investments are about expanding market opportunities for America’s producers, increasing capacity for America’s smaller processors, and ultimately lowering costs for America’s consumers,” said Spanberger. “As the only Virginian on the House Agriculture Committee, I’m committed to making sure Virginia’s small processors have what they need to expand their operations and seize new business opportunities. I’m proud to see momentum continue to build that’s based off our bipartisan Butcher Block Act — and I’ll continue pushing to make these smart investments permanent. More competition in this industry is good for our producers, good for our packers, and good for Virginians at the grocery store.”
The funds awarded this week through the MPPEP will help build new processing plants, support and create local jobs, and give local producers more business opportunities. For example, in Virginia, USDA is awarding $3,567,302 to Shenandoah Valley Organic LLC to expand its organic chicken processing facility and meet increased demand. Specifically, this grant will be used for equipment purchases, new conveyor lines, building and site modifications, and a new wastewater treatment system. The improvements will help the facility alleviate processing bottlenecks and nearly double its processing capacity to 630,000 birds per week.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new investments on Tuesday while touring Shenandoah Valley Organic LLC. Secretary Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh visited with local producers and members of the community to discuss the importance of these investments to the region’s economy.