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USDA grant geared toward preparing students to work in the meat, poultry industry

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KINGSVILLE (April 20, 2023) — Dr. Tanner Machado, associate professor of meat science and meat processing in the animal science and veterinary technology department at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, has received a grant for nearly $1 million from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture for his project Manager Education and Agriculture Technical Skills (MEATS) Workforce.


“The purpose of the MEATS Workforce is to invest in underrepresented students to meet the needs of local and regional meat and poultry facilities through developing production workers, supervisors and managers through training, certifications and networking,” Machado said.


The grant, totaling $950,000, will be for five years, with students being funded for four of those years. In each of the four years, new associates and undergraduate students will be involved in the program. Machado said over the course of the grant, more than 52 students will be pursuing associate’s degrees and more than 48 will be working toward bachelor’s degrees.


“The supply chain issues the world faced over the past couple of years have highlighted the need for skilled workers in the food industry, resulting in an increase in funding for workforce development, in this particular case, the meat industry workforce,” Machado said.


“Funding for workforce development in the meat industry is important for Texas as the Texas Workforce Commission predicts that there will be a 16.7 percent increase in meat-related jobs in Texas between 2020 and 2030 compared to the total increase in U.S. employment of 7.8 percent,” he added. “There are around 340 small meat processors in Texas that are seeking qualified workers.”


Palo Alto College in San Antonio will be the community college that is part of the grant program.


Machado said the project is designed to train students at both Texas A&M-Kingsville and Palo Alto about meat industry skills to not only encourage them to pursue careers in the meat industry, but to also make them competitive when applying for jobs in the industry.


“Each of the four years, faculty at Texas A&M-Kingsville will identify five bachelor’s students to participate in meat industry internships, and another five bachelor’s students and two master’s students for leadership training,” he said.


The students selected for leadership training will be required to complete Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification, complete online leadership programs and attend an American Meat Science Association (AMSA) Student Leadership conference.


While Machado is the principal director for the project, he is joined by co-principal directors, Dr. Jason Apple, chair of the animal science and veterinary technology department; and Dr. Shad Nelson, dean of the Dick and Mary Lewis Kleberg College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Representing Palo Alto College as co-principal director is Ty Chumbley.



Category: General Univ , Ag/Env & Wildlife Sci

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