WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Biden-Harris administration is providing $2.7 billion to support American farmers, students who participate in school meal programs, and emergency food operations.
With funding made available through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation, the Department will provide nearly $1.3 billion for states to purchase foods to be distributed to schools for their meal programs and nearly $1 billion for states to order commodities from USDA vendors for emergency food providers, like food banks and community kitchens, as they face high demand and supply chain disruptions. The investment is part of USDA’s broader efforts to make nutritious food grown by American producers more accessible for families and students.
USDA is also making available up to $400 million for grants to support domestic fertilizer production capacity and lower costs for producers.
“American agriculture has continued to be resilient in the face of significant and unpredictable challenges,” said Vilsack. “To help ease the burden of these challenges, USDA is taking action and providing additional support for producers and food program operators. Today's comprehensive set of investments will help producers by increasing commodity purchases for schools and emergency food providers and supporting expanded domestic fertilizer capacity to lower costs. Addressing these challenges will better prepare USDA, American producers, and the customers we serve for the future.”
Food Purchases for School Meals
USDA is providing nearly $1.3 billion to states and territories to purchase domestic foods to be distributed to schools, bringing the total amount of additional commodity support for school meals to nearly $3.8 billion since December 2021. This additional funding is needed to address elevated food and labor costs that will continue to affect school meal programs into the 2023-2024 school year, when schools will lose the added, temporary financial support Congress had authorized for the 2022-2023 school year in the bipartisan Keep Kids Fed Act of 2022.
The action is one of many USDA has taken to ensure schools have the support and resources they need to continue providing nutritious meals to help children grow, learn, and thrive.
Commodity Purchases for Emergency Food Providers
To help support the millions of families in America facing food and nutrition insecurity, USDA is providing nearly $1 billion for commodity purchases from U.S. farmers to support the emergency food network. This comes as approximately 1 in 9 American households report they have sometimes or often not had enough to eat in the last week. The nationwide expiration of the pandemic-related SNAP Emergency Allotments, which temporarily provided approximately $3 billion in additional benefits to SNAP participants each month, has left families without assistance they have relied on for nearly three years. This latest round of funding, in addition to the nearly $1 billion previously provided in September 2022, will allow states to order American-grown commodities from USDA for emergency food providers. These investments and several other USDA actions to support emergency food providers will help them meet rising demand into FY24 and help ensure no one in America goes without the nutrition they need.
Funds to Increase Domestic Fertilizer Capacity
USDA is making available up to an additional $400 million for grants to support domestic fertilizer production capacity through the Fertilizer Product Expansion Program (FPEP). Through FPEP, USDA provides grants to help eligible applicants increase or otherwise expand the manufacturing and processing of fertilizer and nutrient alternatives and their availability in the United States, as part of efforts to make available a more reliable and affordable source of nutrients required in the production of agricultural commodities by American farmers and bring production and jobs back to the United States, promote competition, and support American goods and services. USDA had previously allocated $500 million for these awards but has seen immense interest and demand in its first two rounds of funding, which received approximately $3 billion in applications. USDA also announced today that it is awarding $30 million in grants under the first round of FPEP and inviting public comments on 66 potentially viable projects under a second round of the program.