The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to invest $3 billion in a comprehensive package to address a variety of agricultural issues. As part of the announcement, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also outlined a new climate partnership initiative. The planned investment is intended to address challenges related to drought, market disruptions, animal health, and school food supply chains.
“The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every stage of our food supply chain, from commodity production through processing and delivery. Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners increasingly experience the impacts of climate change as severe storms, floods, drought and wildfire events damage their operations and impact their livelihoods. We know these challenges will continue into 2022, and others may emerge,” Vilsack said in a press release. “Through this comprehensive set of investments, USDA will take action to prevent the spread of African Swine Fever, assist producers grappling with drought and market disruptions, and help school nutrition professionals obtain nutritious food for students. Tackling these challenges head-on better positions USDA to respond in the future as new challenges emerge.”
A total of $500 million has been designated to support drought recovery efforts and help expand the adoption of water-smart management practices. An additional $500 million will be allocated for relief purposes for producers who have been struggling amidst market disruptions. Increased transportation challenges along with issues of availability and cost of certain materials have created significant problems for the agriculture industry. The funding will also be used for addressing other near-term obstacles related to the marketing and distribution of agricultural products.
Up to $500 million will also be used to help prevent the spread of African Swine Fever through the expansion of monitoring, prevention, quarantine, and eradication activities. Additionally, up to $1.5 billion is to be invested in addressing the supply chain disruptions to school meal programs. The funding will help support the procurement of agricultural commodities and help USDA carry out efforts to provide healthy meals to students.