August 30, 2021
Ms. Sarah J. Helming
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Whitten Building – Suite 312-E
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20250
Re: Docket Number: AMS-TM-21-0058
Dear Ms. Helming:
On behalf of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, the state’s largest general farm organization, we appreciate the opportunity to submit comments for Docket Number: AMS-TM-21-0058 regarding spending priorities for the $500 million allocated as part of the Build Back Better Initiative to expand processing capacity and increase competition in meat and poultry processing.
Pennsylvania is a top state for commercial livestock slaughter, ranking second in the nation for calves, fifth for sheep and lambs, and eighth for both cattle and hogs1. The state’s processing industry is a critical part of the food supply chain, and having reliable access is important for both farmers and consumers. Straightening the processing industry can only improve resilience within the agriculture industry.
We support and echo the below suggestions for utilizing the $500 million offered by the American Farm Bureau Federation in their comment letter:
- Grants to processors for modernizing or expanding an existing facility, including expansion and modifications to existing buildings and/or construction of new buildings at existing facilities;
- Grants to processors for modernizing processing and manufacturing equipment;
- Grant money for down payments to build new packing facilities. While many interested parties can obtain financing for a packing facility, some rural businesses could use the assistance in acquiring a down payment for new construction; and
- Grants or cost share made available for state governments to assist in developing and implementing state inspection programs.
Additionally, these funds should be made available for all packers and processors, regardless of whether the facility is state- or federally-inspected, or a custom processing facility. All types of facilities play an important role in the food supply chain.
We appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback and the Administration’s attention to strengthening processing capacity through the Build Back Better Initiative. We look forward to working with USDA and the Adminsitration to not only allocate these funds, but improve processing capacity throughout the United States as well.
Kristina L. Watson
Director, Federal Government Affairs
1 All numbers are per head. Source: 2019 Northeastern Agriculture Rankings brochure, produced by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service.