Biden Administration: $59M to rural economy

Dorchester Banner
Posted 3/17/23

HARRISONBURG, Va. – U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that the Biden-Harris Administration is investing $59 million across the country to increase …

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Biden Administration: $59M to rural economy

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HARRISONBURG, Va. – U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that the Biden-Harris Administration is investing $59 million across the country to increase independent meat and poultry processing capacity, expand market opportunities for farmers and create jobs in rural areas.

The investments support the Biden-Harris Administration’s Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain, which dedicates resources to expand independent processing capacity. As President Biden has highlighted, creating fairer markets and more opportunities for family farmers helps bring down prices at the grocery store.

“For too long, American farmers and ranchers have been asked to produce more to meet increasing demand across the country and around the world, while they and the rural communities they come from have struggled to see their fair share of the benefits,” Vilsack said. “The Biden-Harris Administration and USDA are taking action to advance a sustainable vision of agriculture that prioritizes the needs of our resilient producers and small businesses, strengthens our food supply chain and brings value back to rural people and places. Through investments like those I’m announcing today, USDA will continue to work tirelessly to give farmers and ranchers a fair chance to compete in the marketplace, which in turn helps lower food costs for the American people.”

Secretary Vilsack announced the new investments while touring a processing facility in Harrisonburg that will be expanded with the funding. 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.

USDA is providing the $59 million in grants to five independent processors under the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program. The funding will help build new processing plants, create hundreds of jobs, give local producers and entrepreneurs more options and business opportunities, and give consumers more options at the grocery store.

In Maryland, Holly Poultry is receiving a $2 million grant to expand its production capabilities. Holly Poultry is a family owned and operated poultry further-processing facility and provides fresh poultry products in the Mid-Atlantic region and with its expansion, from Maine to Florida. Holly will the grant funds to leverage an additional $8 million for expansion of facilities in Baltimore to double the company’s current production capacity within 3 years of receipt of funding. The result will be increased demand for animals from producers; increased opportunities for producers to access value‚Äźadded markets; and improved viability of the existing processing operation. Current workforce will increase by approximately 150-200 jobs by 2025, many of them union. These jobs will be sourced locally and will pay over minimum wage with opportunities for growth. Holly will expand from 1 million pounds of further-processed poultry per week to approximately 3 million pounds per week between two facilities.

“We are proud to help fund a Maryland poultry processing expansion project,” said David Baker, USDA Rural Development state director for Delaware and Maryland. “This will add jobs, strengthen our local poultry growing operations, and further diversify poultry processing capabilities in Maryland.”

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