March 10, 2023
Funding will Benefit Meat and Poultry Processors in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack on March 6, 2023 announced the Biden-Harris Administration is investing $89 million across the country to finance the startup and expansion of independent meat processors. USDA also announced initial steps the Department is taking to create a more competitive marketplace for seeds and other agricultural inputs. In Maine, Coastal Enterprises, Inc., (CEI) is receiving a total of $8 million in grant funds through the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program (MPILP).
USDA Rural Development Maine State Director Rhiannon Hampson said, “As a farmer myself, I deeply understand the need for additional processing infrastructure here in Maine, and greater New England. That’s why I am so happy to celebrate this award to CEI; as a long-time partner of farmers across the region, they have the expertise to uplift many small businesses with this investment.”
Hampson added, “The Biden-Harris Administration made a promise to farmers to create transformational changes in our food system, and they are delivering on that with each one of these awards. Under the leadership of Secretary Vilsack, USDA has engaged in a department wide effort to identify the best ways in which to support America’s farmers and food producers. Here at Maine Rural Development our team is working hard on projects like this one, the MPILP, to make sure that these opportunities find even the most rural of us, and that ‘The People’s Department’ is working for all people.”
Coastal Enterprises, Inc., located in Brunswick, Maine, is receiving a Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program grant in the amount of $8 million. This key investment will bolster the success of the Northeast region’s network of meat and poultry processors through equitable lending opportunities and accessible technical assistance, as well as supporting state-led efforts currently underway.
CEI will leverage its decades of food-focused lending to build a just, vibrant, and resilient future for meat and poultry processors in the New England states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts Connecticut, Rhode Island) and New York, and increase access to processing for the many small livestock farmers in the region. CEI will work intentionally with processors who have been historically marginalized and under-resourced by traditional lending systems, providing both access to affordable capital and industry-specific technical expertise to support regional processing facilities in start-up or expansion.
These 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.
Nonprofit lenders in seven states will use the funding to establish revolving loan funds to finance the startup, expansion and operation of meat and poultry processors. USDA is making the investments in Alabama, Georgia, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
Additional information on MPILP is available at www.usda.gov/meat.
Creating a Fairer Market for Seeds, Other Agricultural Inputs
USDA today released a report, titled “More and Better Choices for Farmers: Promoting Fair Competition and Innovation in Seeds and Other Agricultural Inputs,”that includes recommendations for improving market fairness. USDA is taking immediate action on three of these recommendations:
- USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is standing up a new Farmer Seed Liaison, which will deliver on report recommendations. Specifically, the Seed Liaison will boost transparency and reduce confusion in a complex seed system by helping facilitate communication between farmers and plant breeders and the patent system.
- USDA and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are forming a Working Group on IP & Competition in Seeds and Other Agricultural Inputs, where USDA and USPTO, together with the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, will work to promote fair competition in the seed market.
- Additionally, AMS is releasing today a Notice to Trade regarding compliance with disclosing the kind and variety of seeds under the Federal Seed Act. The Notice underscores that farmers and seed businesses should know the kind and variety of the seed that they are getting from producers. USDA will also expand its FarmerFairness.gov portal to enable farmers and seed businesses to report tips and complaints related to competition and consumer protection in the seed markets.
The report also underscores the importance of public investment in plant breeding to promote resiliency and competition and enable farmers to better adapt to local and regional needs.
More information is available on the AMS Fair and Competitive Markets webpage.
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