WASHINGTON – On June 8, the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) announced plans to invest more than $4 billion to strengthen critical supply chains as part of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better initiative.

Meat processing and animal production are part of what the Biden administration plans to focus on in the agriculture sector. Funding for this will come from the American Rescue Plan Act and earlier pandemic assistance such as the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Funding methods include a mix of grants and loans among other financing mechanisms.

“As it makes investments through this initiative, USDA will also seek to increase transparency and competition with attention to how certain types of conduct in the livestock markets and the meat processing sector have resulted in thinly traded markets and unfair treatment of some farmers, ranchers and small processors,” the agency said.  “Among other investments in the food system and food supply chain, Build Back Better will specifically address the shortage of small meat processing facilities across the country as well as the necessary local and regional food system infrastructure needed to support them.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was named co-chair of the new Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force. The group will provide government responses to address near-term supply chain challenges to the economic recovery.

“The COVID-19 pandemic led to massive disruption for growers and food workers. It exposed a food system that was rigid, consolidated, and fragile,” Vilsack said. “Meanwhile, those growing, processing and preparing our food are earning less each year in a system that rewards size over all else. The Build Back Better initiative will make meaningful investments to build a food system that is more resilient against shocks, delivers greater value to growers and workers, and offers consumers an affordable selection of healthy food produced and sourced locally and regionally by farmers and processors from diverse backgrounds.” 

The announcement does not include the additional $1 billion from the USDA to purchase health food for food insecure Americans and build food bank capacity, which was announced last week.