Utah agriculture adds several billions of dollars to the Utah economy every year. In the face of supply chain issues and increasing food prices, the USDA has unveiled a new plan to improve US food systems for both producers and consumers.
On June 1st, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA plans to transform the US food system to be more resilient in the face of supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine. The newly announced framework also looks to provide more food options, better access and additional market platforms, especially for small or rural producers and consumers.
The USDA said the plan will increase food affordability and equity for consumers by providing over $150 million to food retailers offering healthy food options in underserved and low-income communities, $25 million to modernize SNAP benefit technology and $100 million to create the Health Food Incentive Fund, which will support healthy school meals.
The new plan also includes benefits for US food producers, with increased support for transitions to organic production methods and urban farming through the Organic Certification and Transition Cost Share program, a $400 million investment to develop regional food centers that will coordinate food production and distribution from small to midsize producers and up to $90 million to address US food waste.
This announcement builds on previous initiatives, including the creation of a loan program designed to boost small scale and independently-owned food processing infrastructure and a grant program that offers support to independent meat and poultry processing companies to diversify the supply chain.
According to the USDA, the plan will shorten and strengthen the US food supply chain and reduce environmental impacts in the face of global climate change, by limiting food waste, uplifting sustainable practices and expanding organic food markets.
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