USDA Announces $ 3 Billion Investment in Agriculture, Animal Health and Nutrition; Unveils new climate partnership initiative and solicits input from the public

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Comprehensive set of investments target urgent challenges facing agriculture today

WASHINGTON, September 29, 2021 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a comprehensive package of investments to address the challenges facing U.S. agricultural producers. These include assistance in addressing the challenges and costs associated with drought, animal health, disruptions in the agricultural commodity market and problems in the food supply chain in schools. Secretary Vilsack also described and solicited public comments on a new climate partnership initiative designed to create new sources of income for producers through market opportunities for commodities produced using smart practices in the face of the market. weather.

“American agriculture is currently facing unprecedented challenges on several fronts,” said Vilsack. “The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every step of our food supply chain, from commodity production to processing and delivery. Farmers, ranchers and forest owners are increasingly experiencing the impacts of climate change, as severe storms, floods, droughts and forest fires damage their operations and impact. We know these challenges will continue until 2022 and more may emerge. With this comprehensive package of investments, USDA will take action to prevent the spread of African swine fever, help producers struggling with drought and market disruptions, and help school nutrition professionals get nutritious foods. for students. Tackling these challenges head-on allows the USDA to respond better in the future as new challenges emerge. ”

Full Investment Package – Details Announced Today

USDA is preparing $ 3 billion in investments that will support resilience and drought response, prevention of animal diseases, alleviation of market disruptions, and purchase of food for school nutrition programs. Support will be made available through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). Specifically, the funds will be used to provide:

  • $ 500 million to support drought recovery and encourage adoption of smart water management practices. From rising temperatures and heat waves to early snowmelt and poor rainfall, a record drought has affected producers across the country and left pastoralists with bare winter pastures and short of hay and has pushed agricultural producers to adapt to managing their operations with a fraction of the water usually available. This assistance will target these challenges and allow USDA’s agricultural production and conservation agencies to provide much-needed relief and design drought resilience efforts appropriate to the scale of this crisis.
  • Up to $ 500 million to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF) through strong expansion and coordination of monitoring, surveillance, prevention, quarantine and eradication activities through the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. ASF outbreaks have proved devastating in other parts of the world due to the loss of production and trade. It is essential that we all work together to stop the spread of this disease.
  • $ 500 million to ease disruptions in the agricultural market, such as increased transportation problems, the availability and cost of certain materials, and other short-term obstacles related to the marketing and distribution of certain products, as part of Secretary Vilsack’s work as as co-chair of the administration’s supply chain disruption task Biden-Harris Obliger.
  • Up to $ 1.5 billion to help schools respond to supply chain disruptions. Throughout the pandemic, school feeding professionals have faced extraordinary challenges to ensure that every child can get the food they need to learn, grow and thrive. But circumstances in local communities remain unpredictable, and food and labor supply chains have been stressed and at times disrupted. These funds will support the purchase of agricultural commodities and allow the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to improve the toolkit of school nutrition professionals working hard to improve their skills. ensure that students have reliable access to healthy meals. Today’s announcement builds on the array of work the USDA is doing to identify the lingering issues school districts face during this difficult time and provide the resources, tools and flexibility they have. need to serve healthy and nutritious meals to students.

This set of targeted investments will address the unmet needs of our food system and complement a suite of programs USDA is implementing in response to COVID-19, including the Ministry’s Pandemic Assistance Initiative for producers and the longer-term Build Back Better initiative designed to address supply chain vulnerabilities and transform our food system based on lessons from COVID-19.

Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative: Request for Information

USDA is committed to partnering with agriculture, forestry and rural communities to develop climate solutions that strengthen rural America. Today, Secretary Vilsack announced a new initiative to fund the deployment of climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices to help commercialize climate-smart agricultural products. Guided by science, USDA will support a set of pilot projects that provide incentives to implement climate-smart conservation practices on farmed land and to quantify and monitor carbon and greenhouse gas benefits. greenhouse associated with these practices. Pilots could rely on the specific power of the Commodity Credit Corporation to assist in the expansion or development of new and additional markets. The Department issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking public comment and comment on the design of a new initiative.

“With extreme weather, drought and fires, our agricultural producers are on the front lines of climate change,” said Vilsack. “The new Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative will support pilot projects that create new market opportunities for commodities produced using climate-smart practices and position farmers, American ranchers and forest owners as leaders in the fight against climate change. The pilots will invest in the science, monitoring and verification to measure the benefits of these climate smart practices. Today, we are asking for public input to inform our decision-making and improve the design of this initiative. ”

Comments can be provided no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on November 1, 2021 via the Federal Register, Docket ID: USDA-2021-0010. The feedback will be used to inform the design of the new Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative. The USDA is seeking comments specifically on:

  • The current state of climate-smart commodity markets,

  • Quantification systems,

  • Options and evaluation criteria,

  • Use of the information collected,

  • Potential protocols,

  • Review and verification options,

  • Inclusion of historically underserved communities.

Comments are encouraged from farmers and farmer organizations, commodity groups, breeder groups, environmental organizations, agribusiness and technology companies, environmental market organizations, Renewable energy organizations, tribal and government organizations, organizations representing historically under-represented producers, organizations representing historically under-represented communities and private companies.

USDA is committed to equity in program delivery and explicitly seeks to know how to best serve historically underrepresented producers and communities. This aligns with the Justice initiative40, an effort to ensure that federal agencies work with states and local communities to deliver at least 40% of the overall benefits of federal climate and clean energy investments to underprivileged communities. .

The knowledge gained through this process will inform the development of a Funding Availability Notice (NOFA) soliciting proposals for Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative projects that promote uptake of climate smart practices and promote markets for climate smart products. USDA plans to announce NOFA this fall and project proposals will be accepted early next year.

Under the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to address the climate crisis. Through climate-smart agriculture and forestry partnerships, USDA aims to improve and create new markets and income streams for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters and to strengthen rural economies while improving protocols for measuring, monitoring and tracking carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions. . To successfully address these challenges, USDA will need to pursue a coordinated approach alongside stakeholders, including state, local and tribal governments.

The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming the American food system with a greater emphasis on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy food and nutrients in all communities, creating new markets and sources of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in clean energy infrastructure and capacity in rural areas America, and a commitment to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and creating a workforce that is more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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The USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

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