WASHINGTON — As part of the American Rescue Plan, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing an additional $14 million to help strengthen the US supply chain. The funds will go toward training the agricultural workforce in underserved communities in an effort to strengthen the meat and poultry processing sector, USDA said.

“These investments provide critical support to our higher education partners to increase rural prosperity and economic sustainability of food systems in underserved agricultural communities,” said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, under secretary for Research, Education and Economics and USDA’s chief scientist. “Food insecurity and food system interruptions have hit underserved communities hardest during the ongoing pandemic. By investing in education and workforce development at these institutions, we are training the workforce of the future to develop long-lasting solutions to these and other critical agricultural issues facing our nation.”

Eligible applicants, including qualified Centers of Excellence at 1890 Land-grant Universities, 1994 Land-grant Tribal Colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian institutions, and participants in the Resident Instruction Grants Program for Institutions of Higher Education in Insular Areas, can apply through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Request for Applications process.

NIFA is accepting applications for the Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program through Aug. 29.