All Americans benefit from investments that provide consistent access to safe, healthy, affordable food, and COVID-19 revealed vulnerabilities in our food system. As we build back better, we must create new and better markets for all producers and consumers. The food system of the future needs to be fair, competitive, distributed, and resilient.
The first step USDA took was to help producers get back on their feet through Pandemic Assistance. Now USDA is working to transform our Nation’s food system to create more options for producers and consumers and improve the resiliency of our food supply chain. The success of American agriculture hinges on research, innovation, and the development of new markets, both at home and abroad.
Transforming American’s Food System to Withstand Crises
A strong and prosperous agricultural sector is essential to the well-being of the U.S. economy. America’s farmers and ranchers ensure a reliable food supply, support job growth, and promote economic development. By transforming the food system’s infrastructure and strengthening critical supply chains, USDA will ensure resilience against threats and disturbances and provide local and regional food systems with economic opportunities and security.
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USDA will build a more resilient food system by focusing on:
- more resilient local and regional food production
- fairer markets and options up and down the food system, from inputs through retail
- ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities
- building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices
- making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and
- committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America.
Creating More Markets at Home
In response to the increased demand for local and regional foods caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA will prioritize investments that expand the middle of the supply chain and strengthen local and regional food systems and ensure food supply chain resilience for the future.
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Build Resilient Food Systems, Infrastructure, and Supply Chain
USDA works tirelessly to ensure that the food system is fair, resilient, competitive, and distributed. By transforming the food system’s infrastructure and strengthening critical supply chains, USDA will ensure resilience against threats and disturbances and provide local and regional food systems with economic opportunities and security.
Expanding the Middle of the Supply Chain
Concentration in the middle of the food supply chain has left both farmers and ranchers with limited options to process, aggregate, and distribute their products, and has left consumers with limited options to purchase food to support their local economy. USDA is investing in expanding the middle of the supply chain to provide more options for both producers and consumers, and to make the food system more resilient and less reliant on limited options.
Strengthening Local and Regional Food Systems
In response to the increased demand for local and regional foods caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA will prioritize investments that strengthen these markets and ensure food supply chain resilience for the future. Investing in local and regional food systems will further enhance the share of profits for those who grow, harvest, process, and prepare our food.
Foster Agricultural Innovation and Sustainable Products that Enhance and Create Markets
The future of U.S. agriculture, which includes plant and animal agriculture, forestry, and aquaculture, depends on continued science, innovation, and process improvements supporting technological progress, production efficiencies, and environmental stewardship. Advancing areas with a focus on climate-smart agriculture will enable the creation of innovations to minimize the environmental footprint of agriculture and ensure sustainability while improving crop yields. New technologies and system designs are needed to produce higher value end products from agricultural products, emerging crops, livestock, and forest feedstocks. This will enable new markets, establish new domestic supply chains, and create more jobs and economic opportunities. Increasing productivity has significant social and economic benefits for society.
Biobased Fuels and Products
Biobased fuels and products create new opportunities for creating sustainable options for existing markets and for new markets with products with enhanced attributes of performance and sustainability. USDA is supporting this commitment through the increased development, purchase, and use of biobased products through the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, BioPreferred Program, and Wood Innovations Program.
Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities
USDA is committed to supporting a diverse set of farmers, ranchers, and forest owners through climate solutions that increase resilience, expand market opportunities, and strengthen rural America. The new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities opportunity provides up to $1 billion for pilot projects that create market opportunities for commodities produced using climate-smart practices.
USDA is now accepting project applications for fiscal year 2022.
Ensuring Fair Markets
USDA is taking action to strengthen the rules and enforcement to support farmers and ranchers and create a food system of the future that is fair, competitive, distributed, and resilient.
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Partners in Fair and Competitive Markets
USDA is working with our partners at the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and other White House Competition Council member agencies to fully utilize laws and regulations already on the books, and to bring bad actors to account.
A Modern Set of Packers and Stockyards Rules
USDA is preparing new proposed rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act to address poultry contracting and tournaments, unfair practices and undue preferences, and the harm to competition burdens from the courts. In the meantime, USDA is committed to the enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act to the maximum extent possible under a new enforcement policy announced in August 2021.
Product of USA/Consumer Transparency
USDA is already hard at work clarifying the “Product of USA” label for beef. American consumers depend upon accurate, transparent labels to obtain important information about the food they consume. American farmers and ranchers depend upon those same labels to convey information about their products that consumers value and demand. USDA is working to conduct consumer testing and economic analysis to support a rulemaking on the voluntary “Product of USA” label.
Price Transparency and Fairness in Livestock Trading
USDA remains committed to enhancing the transparency, price discovery function, and the fairness of the livestock markets using traditional Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) tools. In August of 2021, AMS through its Market News service announced two new reports that enhanced transparency in cattle markets for cattle traded today through contractual arrangements outside of the cash negotiated spot markets.
Enhancing Markets Abroad
With 20 percent of U.S. agricultural production exported to the rest of the world, trade is a critical engine powering the rural economy. USDA is pursuing a worker-oriented, market-focused, rules-based trade agenda that removes unfair barriers to U.S. exports, restores America’s reputation for reliability, and leads to new and better market opportunities for producers and agribusinesses of all types and sizes.
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Expanding international marketing opportunities for U.S. farmers and exporters is critical to fostering business and income growth across rural America. It is essential for USDA to continue its efforts to promote American agricultural products and exports through promotion activities, development of international standards, removal of trade barriers by monitoring and enforcing existing trade agreements, and negotiation of trade agreements that benefit the U.S. agricultural economy. USDA will also work with developing countries to grow their economies and facilitate trade, developing markets of the future for all our producers.
American agriculture posted its highest-ever annual export totals in 2021, with $177 billion in global sales of food and farm products. Those exports boost producers’ bottom lines, stimulate local economic activity, and support more than one million American jobs—both on the farm and in related industries such as food processing and transportation.
Expand All Producers’ Access to Global Markets Through Negotiation and Enforcement of Trade Agreements
USDA partners with the U.S. agricultural industry to boost global demand for the high-quality, cost-competitive American food and farm products that customers around the world need and want. Our export market development programs continue to yield results, generating an estimated $24.50 in exports for every $1 invested by government and industry.
In the trade policy arena, we work with other Federal agencies, foreign governments, international organizations, and U.S. stakeholders to create a global environment that’s conducive to agricultural trade by knocking down trade barriers, negotiating and enforcing trade agreements, and establishing transparent and predictable rules and standards.
Expand International Marketing Opportunities and Build Demand in Developing Countries Through Delivery of Technical Assistance and Capacity Building
We’re setting our sights on diversifying global markets for U.S. agriculture. In places like Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, we’re seeing rapid GDP growth, expanding middle classes, urbanizing populations, and increasingly modern food retail systems. That all adds up to exciting new export prospects, which USDA is helping to unlock.
Protect Agricultural Health by Minimizing Major Diseases, Pests, and Wildlife Conflicts
The impacts of pests, diseases, and wildlife conflicts on agricultural production, commerce, and trade can be immense. USDA must balance keeping American agriculture safe while expanding access to new agricultural markets all across the globe. Domestically, USDA conducts emergency response activities that minimize threats and their impacts on agricultural industries, adapting to changes in agricultural risk by adjusting available resources to address these threats. Concurrently, the Department embarks on collaborative research to develop pest-resistant strains of crops and new animal-disease vaccines, expedites the approval of new treatments, and develops strategies to prevent and mitigate damage related to conflicts with wildlife.