The U.S. government will invest at least $500 million to expand beef, pork and poultry processing capacity, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Friday, after consumers faced limits on meat purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
The money from a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package approved in March will be awarded to meat processors in grants and loans to make the supply chain more resilient and increase competition in the sector, Vilsack said at a news conference in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
President Joe Biden signed a sweeping executive order that pushes the U.S. Department of Agriculture to crack down on “abusive practices of some meat processors” and promote more competition in the U.S. economy.
Cattle ranchers say there are too few processing companies that buy livestock to turn into beef, sometimes forcing farmers to accept the one and only bid they receive for animals. Ranchers are now selling cattle for a loss even though meat companies make profits selling beef to consumers, Vilsack said.