U.S – In order to support its ongoing efforts to transform the food system at every point along the supply chain, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has invested more than U.S$43 million in research, innovation, and expansion in the meat and poultry processing industries. 

This investment, funded through the American Rescue Plan and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), are administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

“Farmers rely on technology to become more efficient and profitable. 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. This investment will help enable that vision,” said Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary, USDA.

As part of this total investment, the University of Arkansas was awarded a U.S$5 million grant from the AFRI Center of Excellence for Meat and Poultry Processing and Food Safety Research and Innovation (MPPFSRI).

In addition, U.S$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.

One such business is Biotronics Inc. of Ames, IA, which developed and commercialized technology with funding from USDA SBIR Phase I and Phase II grants that uses ultrasound scans for measuring backfat, muscle depth, and intramuscular fat in its products.

With this new funding, Biotronics will optimize its technology for small and mid-size packers to reduce operation size and costs, streamline processes, and minimize plant installation.

Halomine, Inc., of Ithaca, NY, also received this round’s funding to perform pilot studies and trials working with Steadfast Farms, LLC, Bethlehem, CT on its antimicrobial coating.

The coating that significantly improves poultry and meat processing sanitation technology and important food safety advances was developed with grants from USDA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) SBIR.

The coating, HaloFilm, neutralizes harmful pathogens and prevents biofilms on various surfaces within the poultry and meat manufacturing environment, thus reducing the incidence of foodborne illnesses and increasing productivity.

With the aid of this funding, Cinder Biological, Inc., of San Leandro, CA, will in partnership with Cream Co. Meats, Oakland, CA, extend work from its NSF SBIR work to improve meat and poultry sanitization.

The technology incorporates natural enzymes from volcanic springs to produce the world’s most acidic and heat-stable enzymes.

Daily use of synthetic chemicals causes accumulation in the environment, in aquifers and wastewater flows, and can impact worker safety. Using this more natural system will reduce the use of ammonium-based disinfectants, improve food safety and reduce occupational hazards in meat and poultry processing operations.

Additionally, Wholestone Farms received a grant from the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP) worth U.S$25 million for a significant plant expansion in Fremont, Nebraska. USDA Rural Development handled the administration of this award.

Wholestone Farms is a cooperative owned by 195 independent pork producers that employs over 1,000 plant professionals and 200 office workers.

The proposed plant expansion will add approximately 112,000 square feet directly connected to the existing facility, which will include an 89,000 square foot cut floor and 23,000 square foot rendering building. The expansion will enable second-shift operations, doubling the processing capacity.

“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.”

Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary, USDA.


The AFRI MPPFSRI initiative encourages creative methods of processing meat and poultry by adopting cutting-edge production system technology that evaluates risk management and overall improved food safety.

To encourage technological innovation and lower industrial obstacles to safety and processing, the University of Arkansas’ Center for Scalable and Intelligent Automation in Poultry Processing will combine basic and applied research in meat and poultry processing and food safety.

Previous Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) recipients with pertinent technology were asked to apply for this funding opportunity as part of the MPPFSRI Phase III financial investments.

The chosen winners must offer non-restrictive access or non-exclusive licenses to any technologies or relevant enabling technologies created under this award to assist small and mid-size processors in implementing the technology.

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