GCCA proposes farm bill initiative to build global cold chain capacity.
By Lowell Randel

Every five years, the U.S. Congress considers comprehensive legislation, commonly known as the farm bill, that addresses a wide range of food and agriculture policies. The last farm bill passed in 2018 and expires in September 2023. Congress is currently in the process of evaluating the effectiveness of current farm bill programs and future policy needs. GCCA is playing an active role in these farm bill deliberations and has developed a proposal to establish a new program to build cold chain capacity in developing markets.

GCCA is proposing that Congress establish the Supply Chain Enhancement Program (SCE) to focus on strengthening the global food supply chain for frozen and refrigerated products. GCCA envisions that SCE would be authorized in the Trade Title of the Farm Bill and provided with mandatory funding of $10 million per year. The Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) would administer the program and utilize grants and cooperative agreements to build cold chain capacity by delivering needs assessments, training and technical assistance. Major benefits of the SCE Program will include: 1) increasing export market potential for perishable products, 2) reducing food loss and waste, and 3) improving food security and nutrition in emerging markets. Recent supply chain disruptions have highlighted the importance of having a strong and resilient food supply chain. USDA’s current trade programs are focused on promoting specific commodities or products, all of which are reliant on a functioning supply chain. To complement USDA’s ongoing programs, there is a need to establish a program focused on strengthening the global food supply chain.

Agricultural exports are a critical component of the U.S. economy and support job creation. USDA has reported that 2020 U.S. agricultural exports totaled $150.1 billion, supported 1,133,200 jobs and generated $154.3 billion in additional economic activity. One of the largest limiting factors to further growing export markets for frozen and refrigerated U.S. food and agriculture products is insufficient cold chain capacity in developing countries. According to the U.S. International Trade Administration, cold chain systems are crucial to the growth of global trade in perishable products and to the worldwide availability of food. Each year, billions of tons of perishable food products and U.S. exports valued at millions of dollars are lost due to poor cold chain systems in developing markets.

By strengthening cold chain capacity in developing countries, perishable products can maintain their safety and quality. In turn, this increases their transportability and provides opportunities for agriculture producers to expand and diversify their market reach. Increased investments in cold chain capacity will help to further decrease the more than 1 billion metric tons of global food waste created every year. Many of these losses result from lack of proper facilities, improper food safety handling procedures, and insufficient training for those personnel working in the cold chain. By improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the global cold chain, trade markets can be expanded and billions of dollars in U.S. exports can be saved.

In addition to increasing trade opportunities, strengthening cold chains can play an important role in reducing food loss and waste, a high priority for USDA. A recent report from the United Nations states that approximately 14% of food is lost, and an estimated 17% is wasted. The lack of an effective cold chain to maintain the quality, nutritional value and safety of food is a leading contributor to global food loss and waste, which has ramifications on people’s health and livelihoods. The report asserts that the lack of effective refrigeration is a leading contributor to this challenge, directly resulting in the loss of 526 million tons of food production, or 12% of the global total. This lost and wasted food would be enough to feed an estimated 1 billion people in a world where currently 811 million people are hungry and 3 billion are unable to afford a healthy diet. The cold chain also helps promote better nutrition.

Many of the most nutrient-dense foods are also some of the most perishable and require an effective cold chain to maintain safety and quality. In addition, research has shown that as incomes rise in developing countries, one of the first things that people choose is increasing their consumption of high-quality perishable products. GCCA Chairman Mike McClendon recently met with government officials in Washington, D.C. to promote GCCA’s farm bill proposal to enhance cold chain capacity in developing markets. McClendon and GCCA staff met with staff from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, Members of Congress and officials from USDA to discuss the establishment of the Supply Chain Enhancement Program as part of the 2023 Farm Bill. GCCA will continue to work with Congress, USDA and industry partners to advance cold chain priorities as the farm bill process moves forward.


June 29, 2023


Advocacy, Cold Chain Development, Commodity Storage & Handling, Education, Food Loss & Waste, Government & Regulatory Affairs, Supply Chain Operations, Sustainability