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National Agriculture Day: How USDA is Growing a Climate for Tomorrow by Transforming our Food System Today

Posted by Jenny Moffitt, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs in Equity Farming Food and Nutrition Organic
Mar 19, 2024

Almost two years ago, reflecting on lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and in light of ongoing supply chain challenges from global conflict and a changing climate, Secretary Vilsack announced a new framework at USDA for shoring up the food supply chain and transforming the food system to be fairer, more competitive, more resilient. We’ve since called this our Food System Transformation – and as we celebrate National Agriculture Day and this year’s theme “Agriculture: Growing a Climate for Tomorrow,” I’m thrilled to share some updates on our work.

From expanding meat and poultry processing capacity in almost every state, to bolstering federal procurement from local farms and vendors, to standing up 12 dedicated Regional Food Business Centers, our efforts are creating opportunities for the food system of tomorrow – one that moves us away from a focus principally on productivity, which has forced farmers to get big or get out, toward a system that is productive, profitable, sustainable, healthy, and resilient for all Americans, not just those with the biggest farms. We are generating opportunity for more farms to stay in business by creating more, new, and better markets; making nutritious food more accessible and affordable; and expanding economic opportunities for those who have been left behind in our current system.

Among these transformational investments include:

  • A $1 billion investment in the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program and Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program for states, territories, and tribes which will enable more than 12,000 small and mid-sized producers – half of whom are from historically underserved communities – to sell healthy local food to schools and food banks.
  • A $1 billion investment to expand meat and poultry processing capacity and give farmers additional, local options to obtain fairer prices for the animals they raise and give consumers more options in the marketplace.
  • A $420 million investment through the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure program to strengthen local and regional food systems and build resilience across the middle of the supply chain. USDA has entered into cooperative agreements with 56 state and territory agriculture agencies.
  • A $400 million investment in 12 Regional Food Business Centers to support producers by providing localized assistance to access local and regional supply chains, including linking producers to wholesalers and distributors.
  • A $300 million investment in the Organic Transition Initiative to provide direct and technical assistance to farmers transitioning to organic and to expand market opportunities for farmers by helping them adopt the value-added practice of organic production. USDA has already engaged with tens of thousands of farmers through these programs.

Over the course of agriculture’s history, countless transformations have allowed America to deliver reliable access to safe and nutritious food – at home and abroad. It is time for us to once again embrace transformation to ensure America’s agriculture industry and food supply chain are prepared to meet the challenges of our time.

I hope you will all join me in celebrating National Agriculture Day by taking a moment to see how we are growing a climate for tomorrow and creating a better future for American agriculture through our new food system transformation video.