US – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced plans to invest over US$4 billion in strengthening food supply chains in order to make them resilient to future disruptions.

According to a statement from USDA, the investment is part of President Joseph Biden’s Build Back Better Initiative aimed at securing increased domestic production and ensuring adequate stockpiles, security, and related workforce.

The three-part Build Back Better agenda includes the American Rescue Plan, already passed by Congress, and plans that tackle issues facing American jobs and families.

The USDA investment will particularly focus on making critical supply chains stronger, aiding food production and processing, improving food distribution and storage, and ensuring equitable market access for food producers.

USDA’s efforts are an attempt to remedy pandemic-related inefficiencies in the supply chain that led to shortages in grocery stores and stockpiles at the firm level.

Dairy and beef farmers were some of the worst affected by the supply chain efficiencies. With no access to market, they had no option but to dump their milk and euthanize animals.

USDA estimates the lockdowns during the pandemic caused foodservice traffic to fall by more than 80% as businesses stopped buying.

Through the new investment, USDA hopes to prevent the disruptions seen during the pandemic from ever happening again.

“The food system didn’t break, but it did break down and we must work to prevent that from happening again,” a spokesperson for USDA said in an email.

Making the supply chain robust and resilient

With its initiative, USDA seeks to boost local food production and ensure markets are fair for producers.

That entails creating better funding opportunities for current and future farmers and improving infrastructure so that produce can be delivered in a timely manner.

The investment is also expected to address other issues affecting the food security including climate change, food access and wages for farmers and workers in the sector.

As part of the administration’s broader push, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was appointed co-chair of the newly created Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force.

The new taskforce is expected to provide solutions to immediate supply chain challenges as the economy reopens from the pandemic, with a focus on areas with imbalances in supply and demand.

The secretaries of the Department of Commerce and the Department of Transportation also serve as co-chairs of the task force.

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