U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a new loan guarantee initiative to further address issues within the food system. Another $100 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act will be provided to support the program. The investment is designed to spur hundreds of millions more in lending through community and private sector lenders. The effort is aimed at expanding meat and poultry processing capacity as well as support the development of other food supply chain infrastructure.
“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 in a press release. “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.”
USDA is looking to increase private investment by increasing access to capital, in order to establish more resilience within the food supply chain. The loan guarantees will assist with addressing supply chain bottlenecks and help expand existing infrastructure and establish new development. The new loan guarantee initiative is being established as a complement to other recent investments to increase meat processing competition and address industry concentration.
USDA will be announcing an application window and information regarding eligibility requirements in the near future. A lender training webinar is scheduled for October 14 to provide further details about the new program.