The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced intentions to make significant investments to expand processing capacity and increase competition in meat and poultry processing to make agricultural markets more accessible, fair, competitive, and resilient for American farmers and ranchers. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says USDA will be investing $500 million in American Rescue Plan funds to expand meat and poultry processing capacity so that farmers, ranchers, and consumers have more choices in the marketplace.
USDA also announced more than $150 million for existing small and very small processing facilities to help them weather COVID, compete in the marketplace and get the support they need to reach more customers.
As key agricultural markets have become more concentrated and less competitive, farmers and ranchers are getting squeezed from both sides. Dominant companies can use their power to engage in abusive practices and make it harder for farmers, ranchers, and consumers to get a fair price. Vilsack notes these new investments will help provide information on market conditions.
This latest announcement is just one of several key steps that USDA will take to increase competition in agricultural markets, pursuant to President Biden’s Executive Order on promoting competition and as part of USDA efforts to build a more resilient supply chain and better food system. USDA says these actions will help farmers, ranchers, farmworkers and consumers all get a fair shake.