September 6, 2021
AFBF urges USDA to address supply chain issues
The American Farm Bureau Federation has sent on September 3 a letter to US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack detailing a list of solutions to address critical supply chain issues facing the United States' farmers and ranchers.
AFBF detailed seven priorities for the United States Department of Agriculture to consider in response to US President Joe Biden's Executive Order on America's Supply Chains.
"We are now in our 18th month of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period, our nation has witnessed vulnerabilities throughout the supply chain that haven't been seen before," AFBF president Zippy Duvall wrote. "Supplies of farm inputs like crop protectants, fertilisers and seeds have been difficult to obtain, and expensive to purchase. Highway transportation of farm products and supplies is more expensive and less available today than pre-pandemic levels, and timely maritime transport of value-added agricultural exports is frustrated, at best. All the while, agricultural labor, both domestic and foreign, is increasingly difficult to access and expensive, making already small margins even tighter."
Among the recommendations, AFBF has asked USDA to consider action on:
- Livestock markets and processing capacity: AFBF supports USDA's commitments and efforts to bolster the role of small capacity meat packers in the supply chain. The organisation also supports a grant programme under development to assist those small plants in becoming inspected by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSISI;
- Farm inputs: AFBF urges USDA to work with other agencies to ensure increased costs to farmers are considered in tariff rulings and scientific data is used during the pesticide registration process;
- Transportation: AFBF recommends that USDA and the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) continue to coordinate to ensure agricultural haulers and the rest of the trucking industry have the flexibilities needed to provide timely delivery of essential products. USDA should also work with relevant authorities to improve the US' rail and port systems;
- Labor: AFBF urges USDA to work across the federal government to streamline the application process and ensure timely arrivals of guest workers while ensuring personal protective equipment is readily available for farm workers;
- Trade: AFBF asks USDA to consider the impacts of trade actions on agricultural exports and resolve outstanding issues with the US-China Phase 1 Agreement.
AFBF said it stands ready to work with USDA and the Biden administration on finding solutions to these pressing issues.
Duvall wrote: "As our country moves through what we hope are the final chapters of the COVID-19 pandemic and turns its focus to growth and recovery, we ask that USDA continue to engage with Farm Bureau leaders and staff on matters of critical importance to American agriculture."