Home Legislation would support producers, food businesses, bring down food costs in U.S.

Legislation would support producers, food businesses, bring down food costs in U.S.

corn field in Virginia
A lush crop of well-fertilized corn. Photo courtesy of DCR.

U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Mike Flood of Nebraska introduced bipartisan legislation today to improve competition in the U.S. food system, support regional producers and food businesses, and help bring down food costs.

In May 2023, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the creation of 12 new Regional Food Business Centers to create more resilient, diverse and competitive food systems by providing national coverage coordination, technical assistance and capacity building to help farmers, producers and other food businesses access new markets and navigate federal, state and local resources. The centers, run by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, assist small- and mid-sized producers in overcoming barriers, with a focus on underserved farmers, ranchers and food businesses. Each Regional Food Business Center takes into account regional agricultural factors, leverages existing partnerships and unique organizational assets, and considers gaps within the food supply chain.

The American Food Supply Chain Resiliency Act would make the centers permanent. The bill would maintain the existing Regional Food Business Centers, rename them to “Regional Food and Supply Chain Resource Centers” and codify the centers as federal law. The Regional Food and Supply Chain Resource Centers would continue to support coordination between producers and distributors, fund technical assistance providers to support food and farm businesses and provide grants to food businesses looking to expand or start in their region. The legislation would strengthen the centers’ ability to increase competition in regional food systems, strengthen local agricultural supply chains and bring down costs.

“When our agricultural supply chains are strong, the benefits are felt all the way along the line — from producers’ bottom lines to consumers’ wallets,” Spanberger said. “Agriculture is Virginia’s number one private industry, and our local producers keep our Commonwealth fueled and fed. By making Regional Food and Supply Chain Resource Centers a permanent resource to support our agriculture industry and production capabilities, our bipartisan legislation would make sure Virginia’s farmers and ranchers — and producers across our country — have the support necessary to expand their operations, increase competition along the food supply chain, and consequently lower costs for consumers. I’m grateful for Congressman Flood’s support in working to build more innovative, competitive food systems.”

Flood said the backbone of America is agriculture, which is the way the country helps feed the world.

“Research universities, such as the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, do outstanding work helping support the next generation of research that’s making food production more efficient than ever before. Growing our country’s network of Regional Food and Supply Chain Resource Centers will help spur even more innovation in the coming years. I appreciate Congresswoman Spanberger for introducing this legislation and I encourage my colleagues to join in supporting this effort as it works its way through the House in the months to come,” Flood said. 

The legislation is backed by the American Farmland Trust and the National Young Farmers Coalition.

“The American Food Supply Chain Resiliency Act takes the critical step of codifying the Regional Food Business Centers. This would enable the Centers, which were established with temporary funding, to continue and expand upon their important work of strengthening regional supply chains and supporting the direct technical assistance needed for farmers and food entrepreneurs to thrive,” Tim Fink, Policy Director, American Farmland Trust, said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.

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