As part of President Biden’s initiative to strengthen U.S. supply chains, the Agriculture Department announced $196 million in grants, loans, and loan guarantees to projects to expand domestic food and agriculture production on Monday. The awards range from loan guarantees to expand a nut processing plant in California and develop a 35-acre tomato greenhouse and processing plant in South Carolina, to 170 smaller grants across the country.
The money, drawn from six USDA rural development programs, will be divided among 185 projects in 37 states and Puerto Rico.
“This will result in more affordable prices and choices for consumers as well as more opportunities and revenue for farmers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
In remarks at the White House, Biden announced the creation of the Council on Supply Chain Resilience, stocked with Vilsack and other cabinet members from across the government, as one of 30 steps for stronger supply chains. The president said he would use the Defense Production Act to enable investment in the domestic production of essential medicine.
“First we’re doubling down on our work at home, starting right here, right now” with the supply chain council, said Biden. “I’m charging this group to make sure our supply chains remain secure, diversified, resilient…into the future.” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Biden contrasted the congested ports and supply chain breakdowns of the pandemic era with the smooth-running supply chains this holiday season. “Our goal is to make our supply chains more durably resilient,” said Buttigieg.
The largest loan guarantees announced by the USDA for rural business development were $40 million apiece to upgrade two Lone Star Bakery facilities in China Grove, Texas, and to develop a facility in Lucie, Florida, to expand U.S. production of shelf-stable breast milk, especially for premature infants. California Custom Processing, of Madera, California, was awarded a $29.5 million loan guarantee so it can expand almond and nut processing by 30 percent and Agricultural Scientific was given a $29.6 million guarantee to develop a 35-acre tomato greenhouse and processing plant in Hampton County in southeastern South Carolina.
Seven dozen projects received the maximum award of $250,000 through the cost-sharing Value-Added Producer Grant program for farmers and ranchers who want to enter or expand agricultural processing and marketing. One of the $250,000 grants went to Sunsweet Growers for prune juice production in California. Grand View Beef, based in Wright County in northern Iowa, would use its $250,000 grant to process grass-fed cattle into USDA certified dry-aged beef. Aurora Cellars 2015 LLC planned to use its $250,000 matching grant to expand “direct-to-customer sales of high-end wines through their reservation-only catered tasting experience,” said a USDA summary.
The USDA list of projects receiving funds is available here.
The White House fact sheet on the Council on Supply Chain resilience is available here.
To watch a video of President Biden’s remarks, click here.
A transcript of Biden’s remarks is available here.