Ambitious US Bill to boost plant-based sector enters Congress
31 July 2023
Congressman Jim McGovern introduced the PLANT Act into Congress
Food awareness organization, ProVeg US, has officially endorsed the Peas, Legumes, and Nuts Today (PLANT) Act that has been introduced into Congress in the United States.
The bill, sponsored by Massachusetts Congressman Bill McGovern, is designed to support farmers and companies in producing plant-based foods by ensuring they are eligible for assistance from the USDA.
“The PLANT Act recognizes the huge importance of the plant-based sector and seeks to support it through funding and research,” Lana Weidgenant, ProVeg US Policy and Campaigns Manager, said.
“We welcome this piece of legislation at a time when it has never been more important to promote climate-friendly foods. The record high temperatures experienced across the US and other parts of the world should serve as a warning that we must do all we can to bring down greenhouse gas emissions. Plant-based foods have been shown to be far more climate-friendly than foods from animal agriculture and should be prioritized accordingly,” Weidgenant said.
ProVeg itself has been actively raising awareness of the need to help farmers to transition to climate-friendly agriculture to feed into the plant-based food market. In 2022, ProVeg released a report called “Amplifying Farmer’ Voices: Farmers perspectives on alternative proteins and a just transition”.
The report, based on interviews with 20 national and international groups representing 300,000 farmers, reveals the opportunities and challenges around transitioning to alternative protein production. It found that farmers were open-minded about what they produce but needed to know that there were markets for their produce to secure a financially viable and resilient future for them.
The PLANT Act comes as other countries across the world have stepped up their investment in plant-based foods, presenting a challenge to America’s current leadership in the field. The plant-based industry currently employs more than 55,000 people but new investment could add more than 200,000 new jobs to the sector.
More about the Plant Act
Specifically, the Bill seeks to achieve the following:
- Increase USDA incentives for farmers producing ingredients in plant-based foods, such as pulses (dry peas, lentils, chickpeas, and dry beans) and mushrooms.
- Update USDA’s Market Access Program to encourage exports of plant-based foods.
- Clarify that existing USDA loan programs include the expansion or building of plant-based food processing facilities.
- Update Rural Development initiatives to support plant-based food manufacturing in rural communities.
- Create a new plant-based protein research program within the USDA’s high-priority research and extension initiatives to improve the functionality and flavor of key plant protein ingredients.
- Expand the authorization for the Pulse Crop Health Initiative, which uses collaborative research about pulse crops to provide solutions to the critical health and sustainability challenges
- Update the Value-Added Producer Grant program to support domestic supply chains, including specialty crop growers. The program helps agricultural producers generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income.
- Create an Office of Plant-Based Food Options and Innovative Production within USDA, modeled after existing offices, to provide competitive grants to farmers, companies, and researchers, and to help new and beginning farmers.
- Create a Plant Protein Innovation Initiative to direct technical assistance and grants to businesses, including grants for the development of new products, business development, regional plant-based food production, research, and plant-protein functionality.
Notes to Editors
For media inquiries, email Lana Weidgenant at [email protected]
About ProVeg International
ProVeg is an international food awareness organization working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal-based products with plant-based and cultivated alternatives.
ProVeg works with international decision-making bodies, governments, food producers, investors, the media, and the general public to help the world transition to a society and economy that are less dependent on animal agriculture and more sustainable for humans, animals, and the planet.
ProVeg has permanent-observer status with the UNFCCC, is accredited for UNEA, and has received the United Nations’ Momentum for Change Award. ProVeg also has Observer Status at the IPCC.