USDA announces $4 billion investment to strengthen US food system
The USDA is investing $4 billion to make the US food system more resilient.
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the funds will help strengthen the food system, support food production, improve processing, make investments in distribution and aggregation, and increase market opportunities.
He says that includes funding to increase processing capacity in the US. “I would expect and anticipate that we would work with the states or regions where that processing capacity would be most helpful,” he says. “To see if we could leverage the federal resources we’ll make available to construct or retrofit facilities so they could meet this processing demand.”
He says funds will also help attract new and beginning farmers, and provide transition assistance to small and mid-sized farmers looking to value to their operations. Vilsack gives the example of transitioning from conventional to organic production. “What we are looking at is taking several hundred million dollars and creating a program, that would essentially be a pilot, so we can learn how to best provide a level of transition assistance that would allow folks to make that transition without necessarily sacrifice their ability to keep the farm,” he says.
The funding will include a mix of grants, loans, and innovative financing mechanisms and this announcement is in addition to the $1 billion announced last week to purchase healthy food for food-insecure Americans and build food bank capacity.
The announcement supports the Biden administration’s broader work to strengthen the resilience of critical supply chains.