USDA invests over $330M to promote food supply chain recovery
The USDA has announced it is making more than $330 million available to help agricultural producers and organizations in the food supply chain recover from the financial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The funding includes $169.9 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP), $75 million for grantees of the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) and approximately $80 million for payments to domestic users of upland and extra-long-staple cotton.
The money will help aid in developing new markets for U.S. agricultural products, expand the specialty crop food sector and incentivize the purchase of fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers.
"We launched USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers to respond in a broader, fairer way to the pandemic’s impact across food and agriculture, and we are following through on our promise,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
“The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in wide-ranging impacts that were felt throughout the agricultural sector. The Biden-Harris Administration is focused on ensuring that the entire agricultural sector successfully rebuilds following the pandemic, and the funding we’re announcing will reach a broader set of producers and businesses than previous Covid-19 aid programs.”
The SCBGP funding will go to innovative projects designed to support the expanding specialty crop food sector and to explore new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products.
Active GusNIP and Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grantees may request funding to allow them to address critical food and nutrition security needs of low-income communities, enhance the resilience of food and healthcare systems impacted by the pandemic, and maximize funds reaching participants in communities in need.
GusNIP Covid Relief and Response grants program will support the expanded scope of work started under previous awards to address pandemic relief and respond to community needs in an impactful, timely, and authentic way.
By bringing together stakeholders from various parts of the food and healthcare systems, GusNIP grants help foster understanding to improve the health and nutrition status of participating households, facilitate growth in states with low participation as well as collected aggregated data to identify and improve best practices on a broad scale.
The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) "applauds" the commitment of funds, as said in a statement.
“Continued support for the SCBGP and GusNIP is vital for the viability of our industry, and for continuing to support sustainable production systems and sustainable communities. $330 million is a great first step toward equitable investment into making sure that American consumers have access to fruits, vegetables, berries and nuts -- the most nutritious foods on the planet" Chief Science Officer at PMA, Dr. Max Teplitski said.
"It takes a public-private partnership to successfully grow a healthier world," he said.