Citing lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent supply chain disruptions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced plans to invest more than $4 billion to strengthen critical supply chains through the Build Back Better initiative.
Agriculture and Agritourism are the focus of this next round of funding from Washington, DC, meaning that local farmers, breweries, wineries and more should soon be able to apply for new avenues of financial support. This new effort promises to strengthen the food system, create new market opportunities, tackle the climate crisis, help communities that have been left behind, and support well-paying jobs throughout the nation’s farm-based supply chain.
In the words of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, “The COVID-19 pandemic led to massive disruption for growers and food workers. It exposed a food system that was rigid, consolidated, and fragile. Meanwhile, those growing, processing and preparing our food are earning less each year in a system that rewards size over all else. The Build Back Better initiative will make meaningful investments to build a food system that is more resilient against shocks, delivers greater value to growers and workers, and offers consumers an affordable selection of healthy food produced and sourced locally and regionally by farmers and processors from diverse backgrounds. I am confident USDA’s investments will spur billions more in leveraged funding from the private sector and others as this initiative gains traction across the country.”
Funding under the Build Back Better initiative will include a mix of grants, loans, and innovative financing mechanisms for the following priorities, each of which includes mechanisms to tackle the climate crisis and help communities that have been left behind, including:
1. Food Production: Food production relies on growers, including farmers and ranchers, workers, and critical inputs. But a diminishing share of the food dollar goes to these essential workers. USDA will invest in the current and future generation of food producers and workers throughout the food system with direct assistance, grants, training and technical assistance, and more.
2. Food Processing: The pandemic highlighted challenges with consolidated processing capacity. It created supply bottlenecks, which led to a drop in effective plant and slaughter capacity. Small and midsize farmers often struggled to compete for processing access. USDA will make investments to support new and expanded regional processing capacity.
3. Food Distribution & Aggregation: Food aggregation and distribution relies on people working together throughout the food system and having the right infrastructure to gather, move and hold the food where and when it is needed. This system was stressed during the pandemic due to long shipping distances and lack of investment in local and regional capacity. USDA will make investments in food system infrastructure that can remain resilient, flexible and responsive.
4. Markets & Consumers: The U.S. spends more on health care and less on food than any other high-income nation; yet the U.S. has higher rates of diet-related illness and a lower life expectancy than those nations. At the same time, many socially disadvantaged and small and mid-sized producers do not have equitable access to markets. USDA will support new and expanded access to markets for a diversity of growers while helping eaters access healthy foods.
To provide help with planning for the grant applications, the Washington Tourism Alliance in partnership with Washington State Department of Agriculture is offering a free presentation “Taking Your Agritourism Enterprise to the Next Level” on Monday, June 14, 2021 from Noon to 1:30pm.
Learn from national agritourism experts and get inspiration from fellow Washingtonian farmers who have found success using tourism to make a positive impact on both farm businesses and communities.