USDA Gives $100 Million for Food Supply Chain
By: Sydney Sheffield
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an additional $100 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. The funding help address food system challenges and leverage millions more in lending through community and private sector lenders to expand meat and poultry processing capacity and finance other food supply chain infrastructure. The goal is to create more opportunities for farmers while also addressing issues caused by the pandemic.
“Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is shifting the balance of power back to the communities and small businesses of America by investing in ways we can build more, better, and fairer markets for farmers and families alike,” USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “COVID-19 revealed vulnerabilities in our food system. As we build back better, we must create more better and fairer markets that enhance competition and create economic opportunity across America’s agriculture and food supply chains. This is another meaningful step in our efforts to act on lessons from COVID-19 to build a food system that is fair, competitive, distributed, and resilient where a greater share of the food dollar goes to those growing, harvesting, processing, and preparing our food.”
As stated, this funding is part of the $4 billion made available through the American Rescue Plan. This initiative will support key supply chain infrastructure investments to expand and scale existing capacity, as well as support long-term investments in new operations, such as those in meat and poultry processing. This comes on top of the $500 million investment by USDA earlier this year to expand meat and poultry processing capacity.
Those in the animal agriculture industry appreciate the steps USDA is taking. “Our number one goal at National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NBCA) continues to be opening up new opportunities for cattle producers to be profitable,” said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. “The pandemic accentuated a number of vulnerabilities within our supply chains—chiefly the choke point at the meatpacking sector which has resulted in unsustainable prices for cattle producers and increased the cost of beef for consumers. Today’s announcement is another step toward returning stability to the markets, and NCBA urges USDA to announce eligibility requirements and application instructions as quickly as possible.”
During a virtual conference with reporters, Vilsack said that $55 million in grants have already been issued to modernize existing small and very small plants to allow them to expand market opportunities. Additionally, he also estimated that 250 applications are currently under review for $100 million in grants for meat and poultry processing facilities.