Loan guarantee program to help food supply chain issues in the meat and poultry industry

DELMARVA – With the money from the American Rescue plan act, the United States Department of Agriculture created a loan guarantee program that would help the meat and poultry industry, which would in turn positively impact the food supply chain.

“There’s a really good opportunity for more farmers markets, for more on-farm stores,” says Richard Wilkins, a Delaware farmer and President of the Delaware Farm Bureau.

If this past year proved to be a challenge for anyone, it was the agriculture industry. We’re told large-sized processing plants for meat and poultry struggled to operate efficiently with worker shortages. To combat some of those problems, many larger plants lowered the price for meat farmers, basically discouraging farmers to bring their cattle and chicken, which we’re told greatly affected medium-sized farmers and consumers. “Consumer paying a higher price for their food, while at the same time the farmer that was producing it was being paid a lower price, there’s something wrong with that,” says Wilkins.

Wilkins also tells us, this created shortages in the supermarket chain. Now the USDA has created a loan guarantee program which could help expand meat and poultry processing capacity, and finance other food supply chain infrastructure. “So the opportunity to make more money is distributed more down to the lower level like into our communities,” says Scott Kessel, Acting State Director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

This opportunity helps the middlemen in the industry, begin to gain profit again. “It gives the supply chain more flexibility, and it gives us an opportunity to participate in that process whereas there’s fewer involved and it’s just fairer and it’s better,” says Kessel.

Wilkins adds, these programs are only going to help the Agriculture industry get back on track, especially after this tough year. “It’s another tool that we can put in the toolbox to help assure the resiliency of our food delivery system.”

Officials also tell 47 ABC, this is a part of the USDA’s Build Back Better Initiative; a plan to invest $4 billion to strengthen America’s food supply chain, while also promoting competition.

Details of the ‘Build Back Better” initiative can be found here.

Details of the loan guarantee program can be found here.

Categories: Delaware, Local News, Maryland