NBC29: USDA working to support food supply chains with the support of Rep. Spanberger

NBC29, ISABEL CLEARY

Supply chain issues are backing up meat processors and the wait is going to be awhile. Piedmont Processing in Gordonsville is booked through March, but a USDA announcement could work to free up this wait.

“The pandemic exposed vulnerability it created extreme disruption in America’s food supply chain,” Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small said.

“I remember gut wrenching phone calls with local cattle and livestock producers during the early days of the pandemic, who were suffering severe losses and who were forced to cull animals because they could not be processed in a timely fashion,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger said.

The USDA is pumping $100 million into the food supply chain guaranteed loan program. This will make nearly $1 billion available in loan guarantees.

“What this loan program does is it removes that risk from the lending institution. They’re not the ones now questioning, you know, how risky it may or may not be because ultimately it’s USDA that is saying we are backing these producers because we believe that localized processing is important,” Rep. Spanberger said.

This loan will allow Piedmont Processing in Gordonsville to expand.

“One of the exciting things for this funding and grants being available is simply improving our automation on some of the equipment, given us redundancy in our equipment, taken away some of our exposures we having small business,” Bill Renaud with Piedmont Processing said.

Right now it is operating on a small scale.

“The cooling rooms capacity is really what decides how much we can have on premise, but expanding that capacity is nothing but money,” Renaud said.

While looking at the process may be tough to see for salad lovers. “We do need the product in the world and across our country, and one thing to remember is that through COVID and when the pandemic hit, it opened a lot of people’s eyes onto where beef and pork was really coming from when you’re buying it from the store,” Renaud said.

Piedmont Processing plans on applying for the loan as soon as possible. The funds are available right now through the American Rescue Plan.

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