As part of its ongoing efforts to improve the safety of meat and poultry at every stage along the supply chain, the USDA has made an investment of more than $43 million in meat and poultry processing research, innovation and expansion. This investment is funded through the American Rescue Plan and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).
As part of this total investment, the University of Arkansas was awarded a $5 million grant from the AFRI Center of Excellence for Meat and Poultry Processing and Food Safety Research and Innovation (MPPFSRI). In addition, $13.9 million in grants from the Meat and Poultry Processing Research and Innovation—Small Business Innovation Research Phase III—program were awarded to 14 small and mid-sized meat and poultry processors. These grants are administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Additionally, one $25 million Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP) grant was awarded to Wholestone Farms for a major plant expansion in Fremont, Nebraska. This grant was administered by USDA Rural Development.
The AFRI MPPFSRI program promotes novel approaches to meat and poultry processing by implementing pioneering production system technology that assesses risk management and overall enhanced food safety. The University of Arkansas, Center for Scalable and Intelligent Automation in Poultry Processing, will incorporate basic and applied research in meat and poultry processing and food safety to promote technological innovation and decrease industry barriers to safety and processing.
As part of the MPPFSRI Phase III funding investments, prior Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awardees with relevant technologies were invited to apply for funding. Selected awardees must provide nonrestrictive access or nonexclusive licenses to any technologies or related enabling technologies developed under this award to help small and mid-size processors implement the technology.
“Farmers rely on technology to become more efficient and profitable,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Under the Biden-Harris Administration and through historic funding investments, USDA continues to invest in research processing expansion that will create new and better markets and expand opportunities for small businesses and rural communities. Investments like these will deliver long-term improvements in meat and poultry processing practices to benefit consumers, farmers and the environment.”