USDA Seeks Comments on Food System Supply Chains
USDA
USDA

USDA Seeks Comments on Food System Supply Chains

The request is in response to President Biden’s executive order to support resilient, diverse, secure supply chains.

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April 27, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week announced that the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking comments on a department-wide effort to improve and reimagine the supply chains for the production, processing and distribution of agricultural commodities and food products. USDA is taking this action in response to Executive Order 14017, America’s Supply Chains, signed by President Biden on Feb. 24, 2021. The comment period will close on May 21, 2021.
 
USDA said the comments received will help it assess the critical factors, risks and strategies needed to support resilient, diverse and secure supply chains and ensure U.S. economic prosperity, national security and nutrition security for all Americans. Such supply chains are needed to address conditions that can reduce critical processing and infrastructure capacity and the availability and integrity of critical goods, products and services. Identifying food system supply chain-bottlenecks and vulnerabilities also may provide valuable insights into the competitive and fair markets landscape, effects on local and regional producers and processors and equitable access to food and economic opportunity across diverse communities. USDA will use the comments to prepare a report required by Executive Order 14017.
 
“We have an opportunity to take the lessons we’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and apply those to transforming our nation’s food system from the inside out, including our supply chains,” said Vilsack. “USDA plans to tackle this supply chain assessment holistically — looking across a full range of risks and opportunities. From elevating the importance of local and regional food systems, to addressing the needs of socially disadvantaged and small to mid-size producers, to supporting sustainable practices to advance resilience and competitiveness, this top to bottom assessment will position USDA to make long-term, transformative changes for economic, national and nutritional security.”
 
In addition to asking about the agricultural supply chain, USDA is interested in comments about how to target pandemic-related stimulus relief programs and spending authorized by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) toward long term, systemic change that results in food supply chain resiliency. In particular, the request for comment seeks input on the following:
 
  • Bolstering local and regional food systems
  • Developing new market opportunities (including for value-added agriculture and products)
  • Creating fairer and more competitive markets
  • Meeting the needs of the agricultural workforce
  • Supporting and promoting consumers’ nutrition security, particularly for low-income populations
  • Addressing the needs of socially disadvantaged and small- to mid-sized producers
  • Advancing efforts in other ways to transform the food system

USDA said it is undertaking this effort to strengthen U.S. competitiveness with attention to farmers, ranchers, producers, food processors and other important links in the food supply chain. USDA said it is helping to accelerate a transformation of the country's food system. Goals of this transformation, it said, are to include a fairer, more competitive and transparent system where a greater share of the food dollar goes to those growing, harvesting and preparing our food, and one that promotes and strengthens the overall health and well-being of people, land and water, and the economy. Growing consolidation in food and agriculture, the general health of the population, a growing climate crisis and the need to ensure racial justice and equity are important factors, USDA said, to take into consideration as it looks at strengthening food and agricultural supply chains.