SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — During the recent American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a variety of development from the USDA, including more investments in meat and poultry processing.

The agency said it would fund more than $12 million to expand independent processing capacity in Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota using an expansion program grant.

For Ohio, International Food Solutions received more than $9.5 million to redevelop and expand a vacant building in Cleveland to turn it into a plant. The expansion will include cold and dry storage and two processing lines.

The plant expects to have the capacity to process 60 million lbs of poultry and create 227 jobs. International Food Solutions is a woman- and minority-owned business that has produced thousands of prepared meals for K-12 students receiving free and reduced-price school meals.

In Michigan, grower-owned cooperative Michigan Turkey Producers will receive more than $1.5 million to upgrade the hot water system, wastewater treatment facilities and refrigerated trailers at its plant in Grand Rapids. The agency said that with recent automation upgrades and continuing expansion. The plant can add a shift and double its processing capacity to 10 million turkeys annually. The additional capacity also will allow the plant to provide backup for other facilities of similar size in neighboring states.

Finally, Benson + Turner Foods Inc., based in Waubun, Minn., will receive $962,954 to build a 6,788 square-foot cattle and hog processing plant on the White Earth Indian Reservation. The grant will help the company use locally grown livestock and provide new opportunities for producers to market their products by providing USDA-certified processing.

USDA said these projects were in addition to the first round of funding announced last November which provided $74 million to 22 grant projects as part of the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP).

Last week, Vilsack also announced $9.6 million of investment in loans and grants to 25 independent meat processing businesses