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USDA Announces a $3 Billion Investment in Agriculture, Animal Health & Nutrition

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today, Sept. 29, announced a comprehensive set of investments to address challenges facing America’s agricultural producers. These include assistance to address challenges and costs associated with drought, animal health, market disruptions for agricultural commodities, and school food supply chain issues.

Ayushi Raina
Washington Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
Washington Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

Washington Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled a comprehensive package of initiatives on Sept. 29, to address the challenges that America's agricultural producers face. These include assistance and cost associated with droughts, animal health, agricultural commodity market disruptions, and school food supply chain concerns.

Secretary Vilsack also outlined and requested public feedback on a new climate partnership initiative aimed at providing producers with new revenue streams through market opportunities for commodities produced using climate-smart practices.

“Agriculture in the United States is presently facing unprecedented challenges on several fronts,” Vilsack stated. “From commodity production to processing and distribution, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted every level of our food supply chain. Farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners are increasingly feeling the impact of climate change as extreme storms, floods, droughts, and wildfires events damage their operations and threaten their livelihoods. We know that these challenges will persist into 2022, and that new ones may emerge. USDA will take steps to prevent the spread of African Swine Fever, assist producers dealing with drought and market disruptions, and assist school nutrition professionals in obtaining nutritious food for students through this comprehensive set of initiatives. By tackling these issues head-on, USDA will be better positioned to respond in the future when new difficulties arise.”

Comprehensive Investment Package

USDA is planning $3 billion in investments to help with drought resilience and response, animal disease prevention, market disruption alleviation & school nutrition programme food purchases. The assistance will be provided by the Commodity Credit Corporation. The funding will be used to offer services:

$500 million to assist drought recovery and promote the use of water-wise management techniques. From increasing temperatures and heat waves to low rainfall and early snow melt, Record-breaking drought has impacted producers across the country, leaving ranchers with bare winter pastures and short on hay, and forcing crop growers to adjust to running their operations with a fraction of the water normally available. This assistance will be targeted at these issues, allowing USDA's Farm Production and Conservation agencies to provide much-needed relief and plan drought resilience initiatives that are proportional to the magnitude of the crisis.

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would receive up to $500 million to help prevent the spread of African swine fever by expanding and coordination of monitoring, surveillance, prevention, quarantine, and eradication operations. In other areas of the world, ASF outbreaks have resulted in significant loss of productivity and trade. It is important that we all act together to stop the disease from spreading.

As part of Secretary Vilsack's work as co-chair of the Biden-Harris Administration's Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, $500 million will be provided to relieve agricultural market disruptions such as increased transportation challenges, availability and cost of certain components, and other near-term obstacles related to the marketing and distribution of certain commodities.

Up to $1.5 billion in assistance will be provided to schools to help them in responding to supply chain disruptions. Throughout the epidemic, school food professionals have faced tremendous difficulties in order to ensure that every student receives the food they require to learn, grow, and thrive. However, conditions in local communities remain volatile, and food and labour supply chains have been stressed and, at times, interrupted. These funds will support agricultural commodity procurement and allow the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service and Agricultural Marketing Service to expand the toolbox for school nutrition professionals who work hard to ensure students have consistent access to healthy meals. Today's announcement adds to the USDA's continued efforts to address ongoing challenges that school districts confront at this tough time and offer the resources, tools, and flexibility they require to provide students healthy and nutritious meals.

This set of targeted investments will address unmet needs in our food system and complement a suite of programs implemented by USDA in response to COVID-19.

Including the Department's Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative and the longer-term Build Back Better initiative, which will address supply chain vulnerabilities and transform our food system based on COVID-19 lessons.

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