The food supply chain is a complex and intricate system that is responsible for getting food from farms to grocery stores. Unfortunately, this process is not always perfect, and there are many dangers and problems that can occur along the way. One of the biggest problems facing the food supply chain today is delays.
Now, the U.S. government has announced that it is taking actions to reform the food supply chain. There are three main areas where the U.S. government aims to help.
Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a series of steps it plans to take to reform the food supply chain and overall food system. According to the USDA, these steps will make the food supply chain more resilient, while leveling the playing field for all producers and suppliers.
First, the U.S. plans to increase the number of service options for all parties.
According to its press release, the USDA will be “building a more resilient food supply chain that provides more and better market options for consumers and producers while reducing carbon pollution.” Of course, everyone has experienced some type of supply chain disruption over the past two and a half years since Covid arrived – the food supply chain was no exception. Now, the USDA says it will focus more on local producers and supporting them in order to reduce the travel time needed to get food goods from one side of the country (or world) to the other. It will do this through increased producers (by propping them up) or improved offerings (perhaps by increasing visibility of smaller, localized producers.)
One big way that service options will be increased will be the Food Supply Chain Loan Guarantee Program, a program that will provide financing to smaller, independently-owned producers, and also fund infrastructure for more local/specialized/greener farms and trucking outfits.
Next, the U.S. aims to make the food supply chain greener and more carbon-neutral.
It’s no secret that American consumers love getting their food products fast. However, that speed comes at a steep price: the trucks that transport food from different sections of the country use a lot of fuel which in turn emits CO2 into the atmosphere. By making environmental factors a centerpiece of its reform effort, USDA aims to find greener ways to ship food across the country. Two things the USDA has already announced it will do is invest in urban farming and promote organic farming. The government will invest upwards of $75 million to foster urban farming infrastructure and initiatives, while $300 million is earmarked for farmers who are looking to make their organic products more competitive on the open market.
Finally, the U.S. aims to make the food supply chain much more hyper-local.
The USDA made a really good point when it mentioned in its press release that Covid and other supply chain woes of recent years have laid bare the truth for many: the food system is hyper-localized in all the wrong ways. Right now, producers are concentrated around certain areas and if those areas are affected by weather, disaster, etc. it really messes up the larger food supply chain.
One other program that aims to tackle the geographically-concentrated nature of the food supply chain is the USDA’s $400 million investment into “regional food business centers.” These centers aim to support small and mid-sized food-related businesses in certain regions to ensure they have the resources to start, grow, and prosper. Partnerships will be with the Small Business Administration and the private market to ensure businesses have access to the tools they need.
Delays in the food supply chain are a major problem facing the agricultural industry today.
However, there are some steps that are being taken to mitigate the effects of these delays. By diversifying farms, creating more service options, and localizing the food supply chain to become more resilient, farmers can help reduce the impact of delays on their business. Hopefully, the USDA’s steps are the first step in creating a better, stronger food system for the future.