WASHINGTON — Editor’s note: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has recently announced details of a framework to transform the food system to benefit consumers, producers and rural communities by providing more options, increasing access, and creating new, more, and better markets for small and mid-size producers. The following statements were released by agricultural organizations concerning this announcement.
National Farmers Union
National Farmers Union President Rob Larew Responds to USDA Food System Announcement
Calls the effort, “A great step towards a more secure food supply chain and a fair agricultural economy”
In a speech today at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the framework for a broad effort to transform our nation’s food system.
NFU President Rob Larew was in attendance at the event and issued the following statement:
“Farmers Union members have long known the importance of a strong and resilient food supply and a fair agricultural economy. Today’s announcement by Secretary Vilsack about how the USDA will work to transform the food system is a great step towards those ends. NFU will work collaboratively with USDA to inform this transformative process.”
“Farmers Union members are ready and able to help confront the big challenges of our time— making agriculture markets more fair and competitive, breaking down barriers to healthy food, reinvigorating our communities, and addressing the climate crisis.”
Through its Fairness for Farmers campaign, NFU has been working to bring many of the issues discussed today into the national spotlight, including broadening market opportunities, expanding processing capabilities, and addressing supply chain vulnerabilities.
American Farmland Trust
American Farmland Trust Applauds USDA Framework to Shore up the Food Supply Chain and Transform the Food System
This statement can be attributed to John Piotti, AFT President and CEO
“The announcement today of the USDA Food System Transformation framework by Secretary Vilsack is an important step in building a fairer, more competitive and more resilient food system. The comprehensive program addressing production, processing, distribution and markets will benefit consumers, producers and rural communities.
“American Farmland Trust has been a strong advocate for increased business technical assistance to farm and food businesses and organized an effort last year with the Agricultural Viability Alliance to encourage USDA to do more in this space. We are pleased that USDA has heeded the call from 50 Members of Congress and more than 110 organizations to recognize the important role that customized business technical assistance can play in the viability of small and mid-size farm and food businesses. The Regional Business Development Centers announced today, along with the American Rescue Plan Technical Assistance Investment Program announced earlier this year, represent a significant new investment by USDA in dedicated business technical assistance that has proven effective at creating jobs and boosting business profitability.
“AFT and our partners provided input to USDA on the design of the Regional Food Business Centers, with a particular emphasis on the need for technical assistance to the farm businesses that represent the supply side of the food system. We look forward to engaging further with USDA on implementation of the Centers, which, according to the USDA statement, will ‘provide coordination, technical assistance, and capacity building support to small and midsize food and farm businesses, particularly focused on processing, distribution and aggregation, and market access challenges.’
“We are thankful to both Secretary Vilsack and Undersecretary Moffit for their commitment to this important effort.”
International Fresh Produce Association
IFPA Provides Produce Perspective on USDA’s “Food System Transformation Framework”
International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) has responded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) announced “Food System Transformation Framework” highlighting the aspects most likely to impact fresh produce and floral.
“We applaud the USDA on their ambitious approach shared in the ‘Food System Transformation Framework’ to achieve a more fair, competitive and resilient food system,” said IFPA’s Chief Public Policy Officer Robert Guenther. “We have seen a variety of global disruptions expose many weaknesses in our U.S. and global food system. We look forward to the rollout of the plan that will focus on creating a more sustainable and resilient system that recognizes the importance for farmers to remain profitable while also expanding access to nutritious food for all.”
IFPA’s Government Relations and Food Safety experts reviewed the framework and have highlighted the following key aspects of the plan that are most likely to impact the fresh produce and floral supply chain:
PRODUCTION & PROCESSING
- $200 million for Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops Program for specialty crop operations that incur eligible on-farm food safety program expenses to offset compliance costs of regulatory requirements and market-driven food safety certification requirements.
- Up to $600 million in financial assistance to support food supply chain infrastructure aimed at independently owned and available infrastructure such as cold storage, refrigerated trucks, and processing facilities are in short supply but essential to creating a more resilient food system.
- Up to $300 million in a new Organic Transition Initiative to provide comprehensive support for farmers to transition to organic production through technical assistance, including farmer-to-farmer mentoring; provide direct support through conservation financial assistance and additional crop insurance assistance and support market development projects in targeted markets.
- Up to $75 million to support urban agriculture. The 2018 Farm Bill authorized the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production to award competitive grants to support urban agriculture.
- $400 million to create regional food business centers that will provide coordination, technical assistance, and capacity building support to small and mid-size food and farm businesses, particularly focused on processing, distribution and aggregation, and market access challenges.
NUTRITION & FOOD SUPPLY
- Additional $40 million in the GusNIP Produce Prescriptions Program. This program funds projects that demonstrate and evaluate the impacts of fresh produce prescriptions to increase fresh fruit and vegetable consumption, improve health, and reduce food insecurity.
- $100 million to create a new Healthy Food Incentive Fund, which will support school food authorities to innovate and accelerate their efforts to improve the nutritional quality of school meals to children.
- $60 million to leverage increased commodity purchases through Farm-to-School. Farm-
to-school programs are a proven model of increasing markets for farmers via child nutrition programs while also providing children healthy, fresh food.
- Increases Healthy Food Financing Initiative to $155 million. Aimed at ‘food deserts’, this program provides grants and loans to entities that offer healthy food in communities that are underserved by grocery stores and other food retailers.
- $25 million to support SNAP technology improvements to modernize the delivery of incentive programs through SNAP’s electronic benefit transfer (EBT) technology.
- Up to $90 million to prevent and reduce food loss and waste. Wasted food results in unnecessary uses of energy as well as methane and CO2 emissions; reducing food waste can help the United States meet its climate commitments.
IFPA was present at Georgetown University for the USDA’s announcement on June 1 and will continue to monitor the rollout of the Food System Transformation Framework. The association will focus on maximizing opportunities for members and the produce and floral communities. More information on IFPA’s priority issues can be found here.