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DeLauro, House Ag Chairman Peterson, Fmr. USDA Secretaries Vilsack and Glickman, Chef José Andrés, Consumer Reports Announce Release of Action Plan to Safeguard America’s Food Supply

May 1, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC — (May 1, 2020) Today, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Vice-Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, joined House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (MN-07), former United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretaries Tom Vilsack and Dan Glickman, Chef José Andrés, and Consumer Reports to announce the release of a comprehensive action plan to safeguard America’s food supply during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan includes detailed steps the USDA should immediately take, including diverting surplus food that is currently being wasted, protecting workers—from the farm to the grocery store—who make feeding America possible, and fully utilizing existing authority and resources provided by Congress to help farmers, ranchers, and grower operations. It also includes a plan for USDA to partner with Congress on additional innovative solutions to feed all Americans.

“Too many people across the country are struggling to get food in their communities—at grocery stores and food banks,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. “At the same time, farmers are plowing crops under, euthanizing pigs, and dumping milk. This is a massive failure in the food supply chain, and only the federal government has the scale and resources to solve the problem. That is why I am proud to team up with experts in agricultural space who understand the scope of the problem, the opportunities within existing USDA authority, and the on-the-ground know-how in communities to feed people where they are. I urge Secretary Perdue and the Trump administration to join us at this critical moment in our nation’s history. We must do everything we can to keep people from going hungry.”

“I appreciate Chairwoman DeLauro’s proposed action plan for the Department of Agriculture,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson. “This public health emergency has disrupted our economy and it is important that we take care of producers and consumers across the country.”

“Every American farmer takes pride in feeding our country and the world,” said former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Sadly, as a result of the coronavirus’ impact on today’s supply chain, many farmers are facing no choice but to dump and destroy valuable agricultural product rather than donate to local food banks and pantries. As laid out in Congresswoman DeLauro’s plan, only the federal government can and should work to eliminate that disincentive. In doing so farmers will stay on the farm, workers will stay employed, and hungry people will get fed.”

“As the country continues to endure the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the challenges facing America’s agriculture and food supply chains are complex and multifaceted,” said former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman. “With this action plan, Congresswoman DeLauro has brought together an array of stakeholders to put forward a holistic approach to solving these issues. Implementing these actions would go a long way towards shoring up American agriculture and ensuring the continued availability of food.”

“As our country faces a significant economic and health crisis, I believe that food can be part of the solution, not the problem,” said Chef José Andrés. “From farms to restaurants to non-profits serving meals on the frontlines of this pandemic, America has a great opportunity to put forth bold solutions that protect the food supply chain and ensure our country stays fed. Every dollar USDA invests in food purchase and distribution, federal nutrition programs, and support for food banks and local food systems represents our commitment to feeding Americans in need and strengthening our economy at the same time. I hope Secretary Perdue and the Trump administration will act with urgency and be the leaders we need on food issues.”

“Congresswoman DeLauro has outlined the bold action plan that will be necessary to avoid major food supply disruptions and ensure the availability of safe and affordable food in a time of crisis,” Brian Ronholm, Director of Food Policy at Consumer Reports and former Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA. “Federal agencies should be collaborating and acting immediately to protect and assist workers throughout the supply chain -- farmers, industry personnel, government inspectors, and grocery store employees.”

A signed copy of the letter DeLauro sent to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue outlining the plan can be found here.