WASHINGTON — The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a revised framework with consumers, producers and rural communities that would provide more opportunities for small and mid-size meat producers to adopt alternative modes of production and distribution.

The revisions from the agency address problems that surfaced from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

The USDA noted the difficulty for small and mid-size producers and the barriers to entry for new farmers. One of its goals is to increase options for US farmers to process locally, sell locally and adopt practices that are good for the business and the climate.

The USDA determined four overall goals for the framework:

  • 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

Earlier, the USDA made investments to support new and expanded regional meat processing capacity and address challenges in the middle of the supply chain. Previous announcements included:

  • The Food Supply Chain Loan Guarantee Program
  • Deployment of up to $375 million in support for independent meat and poultry processing plant projects 
  • Creation of a robust technical assistance network. The USDA was also deploying $25 million through the Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program 
  • Investment of up to $275 million in partnership with lenders  

Upcoming USDA investments for food production and processing include:

  • Up to $300 million in a new Organic Transition Initiative to provide comprehensive support for farmers to transition to organic production 
  • Up to $75 million to support urban agriculture

The Organic Certification and Transition Cost Share program provides pandemic assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products obtaining their license under the National Organic Program (NOP). The Farm and Food Worker Relief Grant Program provides support to workers in food production and processing who faced challenges during the pandemic.

More details about the frameworks can be found here.