The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week announced that it is seeking comments from the public in connection with the Biden administration’s wide-ranging review of America’s supply chains.
On February 24, President Biden issued an Executive Order directing a number of Federal agency actions to secure and strengthen the nation’s supply chains. Among them, was for the Agriculture Secretary to submit, within one year, a report assessing the supply chains for the production of agricultural commodities and food products.
USDA’s Federal Register notice requests comments and information on a wide range of issues relating to labor acquisition and training, technology, climate and environment, transportation, storage and distribution, research and development, and financing.
Of particular interest to the USDA are the following goods and materials deemed as “critical and essential” that it is looking to be addressed in industry comments:
seed, fertilizer, pesticides, livestock/animal health, feed and feed additives, plant health, soil health, water (availability, quality, access, infrastructure), energy (availability, access, infrastructure), viability of pollinators, the agricultural workforce (sufficiency, reliability, documentation, health and well-being), access to capital/financing, access to farm production tools (including for farmers interested in value-added agriculture such as USDA organic certification), access to critical food distribution assets (shipping containers, cold chain equipment, and materials such as packaging) and technology, access to food processing and markets (including traceability and transparency), and access to training, education, and technical assistance.
Public comment is also being requested to inform USDA’s thinking on how it should use stimulus relief programs arising out of the American Rescue Plant Act of 2021 and funding intended “to increase durability and resilience within the U.S. food supply” authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.