As part of the Administration’s efforts to address food systems challenges arising from the pandemic as well as those going back decades, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA 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 revealed and exacerbated by the pandemic.
The department plans to publish specific details on the new program and how to apply as part of the USDA’s 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 Biden-Harris Administration’s announcement earlier this month 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.
“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,” Vilsack said. “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.”
The USDA is preparing to issue a notice to announce eligibility requirements and the application window. Lenders and other interested stakeholders may sign up for email updates to receive the latest information about the program and related events. The USDA is hosting a lender training webinar on October 14 to inform rural lenders, community development financial institutions, food sector lenders and community lenders about how they can become approved to participate in this program. In addition, USDA is planning a forum for financing entities aligned with the announcement of the eligibility and application requirements.
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