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Spanberger hosts USDA leaders in Orange County

Abigail Spanberger
Abigail Spanberger

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger today brought USDA officials to Orange County to meet with Virginia livestock producers and highlight USDA’s announcement of major funding to back private investment in local processing and food supply infrastructure.

Last week, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is deploying $100 million under the new Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program to make available nearly $1 billion in loan guarantees. These investments will help essential processing and supply chain infrastructure that will ultimately deliver more opportunities and fairer prices for farmers, as well as eliminate bottlenecks in the food supply chain.

This funding was made available thanks to the American Rescue Plan, which Spanberger voted to pass earlier this year.

This announcement follows Spanberger (D-VA-07) introducing bipartisan legislation to rebalance the cattle market by easing regulatory barriers and offering USDA meat processing grants for smaller processors looking to expand.

During today’s visit, Spanberger was joined by USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small and USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Moffitt. The officials met with the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association and several additional Virginia farm organizations in Gordonsville, where they toured Knight Cattle Corporation and Piedmont Processing.

Following the tour, Spanberger spoke about the importance of supporting small processors, increasing competition in the meat and poultry industries, and making sure American consumers have stronger and cheaper access to food ahead of the holidays — and beyond.

“The livestock and poultry industries bring in millions of dollars to Central Virginia’s economy each year. Unfortunately, ongoing supply chain disruptions threaten this funding stream, as does continued consolidation within the meat industry,” said Spanberger. “That’s why I am so proud to have USDA engaging directly with Virginia’s livestock producers as it works to stimulate private investment in smaller processing facilities. The new Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program is a step in the right direction, and it’s an important step towards the long-term stability and security of America’s food supply. As the only Virginian on the House Agriculture Committee, I want to thank Under Secretary Torres Small and Under Secretary Moffitt for coming to Orange County today, and I want to express my gratitude to our region’s cattlemen and agribusinesses for sharing their thoughts on how we can increase processing capacity, meet food demand here at home, and keep America’s producers competitive in the global ag economy.”

“The Virginia Cattlemen’s Association appreciates Congresswoman Spanberger’s and USDA’s tireless efforts to make opportunities like the Guaranteed Loan Program possible for our producers,” said Brandon Reeves, executive director, Virginia Cattlemen’s Association. “USDA data shows that the cattle farmer’s percent of retail value has fallen from 51.5 percent in 2015 to only 37.3 percent in 2020 while the price of beef has skyrocketed along with farmer’s input costs. When you combine that with packers investing in alternative protein, it is increasingly important for us to have increased packing capacity at the local and state level.  We thank the Congresswoman and USDA for creating this program and look forward to seeing local Virginia processing expand.”

augusta free press
augusta free press