A pair of Iowa projects will receive $1.1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) latest round of grants and loans to help small- to medium-size farms and rural businesses to diversify the nation’s meat supply.

“USDA is putting the needs of farmers, ranchers and consumers at the forefront to strengthen the resiliency of America’s food supply chain while promoting competition,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said Jan. 5. “USDA has undertaken a department-wide approach to coordinate ways to deliver more opportunities and fairer prices for producers, to give people access to healthier foods, eliminate bottlenecks in the food supply chain and ultimately lower prices for consumers.”

The two Iowa businesses in­cluded in this round of funding are Jordan’s Meat Market in Marcus and Waubonsie Ridge Beef in Tabor.

Waubonsie Ridge Beef, a cattle farm in Fremont County, will receive a $210,000 grant to “support the processing and marketing of retail beef cuts. The expansion will create more value-added meat products for sale to the public and will promote economic development,” the USDA said.

Jordan’s Meat Market, a processor in Cherokee County, will receive an $800,000 loan to “construct a meat locker in Marcus. The funding will cover construction of the facility and working capital. This project is expected to create seven jobs,” the USDA said.

Nationwide, the USDA awarded 23 Value Added Producer program grants totaling $3.9 million to help producer-owned companies across the country process and market new products.

It also provided guarantees for a total of $5.7 million in loans to two companies through the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program using American Rescue Plan funding. This program supports new investments in infrastructure for food aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storage, transportation, wholesaling and distribution.

In total, the USDA has provided $54.6 million to 278 businesses and individuals through the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant Program for strengthening and developing new market opportunities for U.S. meat and poultry processors.

An additional $25 million is also available to establish the Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program. This program consists of a nationwide network to ensure that participants in USDA’s Meat and Poultry Supply Chain initiatives have access to a full range of technical assistance to support their project development and success.