U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the coronavirus task force, to emphasize the need to take immediate steps to address the nation’s food production crisis. The letter calls for the administration to develop a plan that can:
- Balance Public Health While Operating Critical Food Systems
- Deal with the On-Farm and On-Ranch Livestock Emergency
- Provide Funding to Implements the Plans
Some of the major points that Rounds expressed were food production, developing a a national plan, and the impact COVID-19 has on farmers and ranchers.
“Production of food is critical to the nation, to citizens of South Dakota and to our state’s farmers and ranchers,” Rounds writes. “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has not only harmed public health, but it is also doing severe damage to South Dakota’s economy. Our farms, ranches and Main Street businesses are in trouble and nowhere is the pressure being felt more acutely than our livestock industry.”
In the letter, Rounds addresses the issue of farmers and ranchers having enough product but restaurants are closed and grocery store shelves stand empty.
“The USDA needs to immediately issue an emergency order to activate an incident command center. This will provide a needed incident command structure to manage the problem with an eye toward animal welfare, farmers’ and ranchers’ mental health and safe disposing of the animals in a proper environmental manner.”
The Senator continued, “The nation’s governors will need to work closely with the USDA, state veterinarians and industry to streamline these processes. Measures may include emergency declarations for temporary overstocking of facilities, identification of centralized disposal sites and mobilization of the National Guard to help farmers, ranchers and industry expedite this action with some semblance of humanity.”
Senator Rounds concluded the letter by saying, “In the end, we are going to be judged by our ability to provide leadership and deliver immediate results.”
The full letter can be found here.
Office of South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds
Northern Ag Network