News Article –
Last month, NASDA sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence expressing agricultural workers’ need for access to personal protective equipment. NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn wrote “PPE is essential to protect workers, keep production facilities open and ensure a stable supply of food for consumers.”
To drive this point home, Glenn joined U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on a recent RFD-TV Rural Town Hall to discuss progress made on implementing protective measures in meat packing facilities, but NASDA says there’s more to be done and state departments of agriculture are best fit to help.
Fruit and vegetable production is another stop on our food supply chain that requires close-quarters work. As spring produce ripens for harvest across the country, farmers are left to figure how they’ll procure ample PPE for their employees. Much of this season’s crop will be hand-harvested by men and women working as teams in the field, and some will require on-farm housing.
Meat packing companies have acquired PPE for employees by purchasing it themselves, but farmers already hit by losses may not have extra margin to buy PPE for their own operations. Rather than leaving it up to individual farmers, who may or may not have received any COVID-19 aid, NASDA suggests providing federal funding to state departments of agriculture who are uniquely positioned to both aid farmers and support the full supply chain.
The newly introduced Farming Support to States Act will accomplish just this. Agriculture department leaders have said the number one priority they’d use extra funding for is expanding efforts to keep workers safe. Through increased purchasing power for PPE, developing workplace safety trainings, and expanding mental health services, the impact state departments of agriculture can have extends far beyond what one-time relief payments can provide.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the food supply chain and consumer needs, state departments of agriculture urge Congress to support the Farming Support to States Act to better protect the health and safety of agricultural workers and their communities.
Learn more about the Farming Support to States Act at nasda.org/farmingsupporttostates.