The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has outlined some of the most important coronavirus concerns that are facing the agricultural sector. The first assessment from AFBF details the most pressing issues for farmers and ranchers as American health officials continue efforts to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. AFBF was invited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide feedback on the biggest issues facing the agricultural industry, which includes labor, supply chain concerns, as well as potential price manipulation.
There is a notable concern related to the announcement from the State Department which will suspend the processing of new, non-emergency visa applications in Mexico. The move had the potential to create disruption in the number of H-2A workers that are available. AFBF is encouraging the Trump Administration to determine a method to ensure a reliable supply of skilled workers for American farms and ranches. Members of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition have joined AFBF in urging U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to facilitate a workable solution.
Other coronavirus concerns raised by AFBF include potential issues in the food supply chain as well as maintaining stable and fair markets. AFBF called for close monitoring of production interruptions at dairy processors, meat packing facilities and other processing facilities. AFBF is also requesting that the hours of service waiver that was announced earlier in the week be extended to include the entire agricultural supply chain. There has also been concern raised by industry members in regard to manipulation of the livestock market as well as the potential for dumping fresh produce into the market from other countries.
AFBF will remain in close contact with the USDA to provide any further input as the situation changes. “America’s farmers and ranchers will be with you every step of the way, doing all that we can to help you win this fight and to ensure the health, safety and prosperity of all America,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a letter addressed to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We applaud your leadership and commitment and stand ready to work with you as our nation meets this unique challenge.”