Vilsack announces program to strengthen the food supply chain
U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack made a stop in Ohio to discuss the administration’s steps to address supply chain issues and help small meat processors like the Stockyards Packing Company expand.
U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a $100 million investment under the new Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program, which will unlock nearly $1 billion in loan guarantees.
The loans will back private investment in processing and food supply infrastructure that will strengthen the food supply chain.
“The resources can be used not only to expand existing facilities or even to build new facilities but also for other aspects of the supply chain that are just as important as processing,” Vilsack says.
He uses cold storage as an example.
“We know and have heard from the countryside the need for more cold storage and warehousing so this program is flexible enough that the loans can made for those mid-supply chain expenses and needs,” he says.
He tells Brownfield the investment will benefit producers.
“It expands capacity and begins to address some of the challenges in the middle of the supply chain,” he says. “As you expand capacity, you also create a more competitive market which means that it should result in fairer prices for producers. And, it should relieve the stress of whether or not they’ll be able to find a place to process.”
Vilsack says they will immediately begin accepting applications from banks interested in securing additional risk protection.
USDA is making the funds available through the American Rescue Plan Act. This follows the administration’s September announcement about the steps it’s taking to address concentration in the meat processing industry. The new commitment of $100 million for guaranteed loans adds to the previously announced $500 million to expand meat and poultry processing capacity.
The efforts are part of USDA’s Build Back Better Initiative, a plan to invest $4 billion to strengthen the resiliency of America’s food supply chain while promoting competition.