The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced details of a framework to transform the food system to benefit consumers, producers and rural communities by providing more options, increasing access, and creating new, more, and better markets for small and mid-size producers. The plan seeks to build on the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic as well as supply chain disruptions caused by Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The program includes $2.1 billion in new funding to bolster food supply chains, including initiatives to expand small- and midsized processing plants. Funds will also be used to finance new infrastructure such as cold storage facilities and to assist farmers shifting to organic production
The goals of USDA’s Food System Transformation framework include:
- Building a more resilient food supply chain that provides more and better market options for consumers and producers while reducing carbon pollution
- Creating a fairer food system that combats market dominance and helps producers and consumers gain more power in the marketplace by creating new, more and better local market options
- Making nutritious food more accessible and affordable for consumers
- Emphasizing equity: For too long, rural communities, underserved communities, communities that experience persistent poverty, and the people who live there have been left behind
These goals will be spread out through four program details:
- Food Production
- Up to $300 million in a new Organic Transition Initiative
- Up to $75 million to support urban agriculture
- Food Processing
- The Food Supply Chain Loan Guarantee Program, which will back private lenders that invest in independently owned food processing, distribution and aggregation infrastructure, and other projects along the middle of the supply chain.
- Deployment of up to $375 million in support for independent meat and poultry processing plant projects.
- Creation of a robust technical assistance network
- Investment of up to $275 million in partnership with lenders to address the credit access gap for meat and poultry processing projects
- Distribution and Aggregation
- Food Investment of $400 million to create regional food business centers
- Investing $60 million to leverage increased commodity purchases through Farm-to-School.
- Investing up to $90 million to prevent and reduce food loss and waste
- Markets and Consumers
- Increase funding to the Healthy Food Financing Initiative by $155 million.
- An additional $50 million in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
- An additional $40 million in the GusNIP Produce Prescriptions Program.
- $25 million to support SNAP technology improvements.
- $100 million to create a new Healthy Food Incentive Fund.