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Brief: The USDA wants your input on food supply chain resiliency

May 17, 2021

  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking comments on how to improve and revamp food supply chains including production, processing, and distribution. You can learn more about submitting a comment here. The deadline is May 21, 2021.
  • Taking a broad view, USDA is hoping to address supply chain bottlenecks and vulnerabilities, impacts on local and regional producers and processors, equitable access to opportunities across diverse communities, and promoting competitive and fair markets.
  • USDA is also interested in comments regarding how it should spend pandemic-related stimulus relief programs that can achieve long-term supply chain resiliency.

Why it matters

Covid-19 exposed countless weaknesses and inefficiencies in the food supply chain, leaving grocery store shelves bare and creating ongoing uncertainty for supply chain players. The agrifood tech community has rallied around the crisis, launching a multitude of efforts to improve the food supply chain (examples here, here, and here).

Government support could help ease any regulation-based roadblocks or hurdles that may otherwise prevent supply chain renovations while providing action plans for future pandemics or supply chain disruptions. The USDA’s current request for comment could also provide a greater platform for the regenerative agriculture community and other proponents of decentralized food production.

President Biden’s climate plan includes creating a “carbon bank” for farmers who adopt regenerative practices, which could dovetail with downstream efforts to bolster the supply chain. Some stakeholders are already attempting to create new supply chains for regeneratively grown commodities to allow growers to capture price premiums while helping food manufacturers with consistent sourcing.

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