The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as part of their efforts to address food systems challenges arising from the pandemic as well as those going back decades, has announced plans for another $100 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. The funding would leverage hundreds of millions more in lending through community and private sector lenders to expand meat and poultry processing capacity and finance other food supply chain infrastructure. These investments will help deliver more opportunities and fairer prices for farmers and address bottlenecks in the food supply chain caused by the pandemic.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “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. 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.”
USDA plans to publish specific details on the new program and how to apply as part of their Build Back Better Initiative, a comprehensive plan to invest $4 billion to strengthen the resiliency of America’s food supply chain while promoting competition. This announcement follows the earlier announcement of steps it is taking to address concentration in the meat-processing industry, adding a new commitment of $100 million for loan guarantees on top of the previously announced $500 million investment to expand meat and poultry processing capacity.