Alabama ag commissioner: ‘Our food supply is secure’
As the state deals with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) Commissioner Rick Pate wants to assure all Alabamians that there “is no reason to feel the need to hoard or to store more food than normal.”
In a message sent out this week, Pate outlined that the department has continued to fulfill its regulatory responsibilities and redirected its 350 employees to work from home as needed.
“Our duty is to protect food safety, ensure animal health, permit the movement of plants and the use of pesticides while regulating the weighing and measuring devices needed in industry,” Pate explained. “We fulfill our regulatory responsibilities so that the food and agriculture industries of Alabama can continue to provide a safe and secure food supply. Alabama’s agricultural producers and related industries not only provide food and fiber to its citizens, but to the rest of the country and the world.”
Wednesday morning, Pate reportedly participated in a conference call with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and other state agriculture commissioners. During that call, Pate said he was assured that the USDA is coordinating with all federal agencies to prohibit any federal actions that are being taken to curb the spread of coronavirus from adversely impacting the national food supply or logistics systems supporting those industries.
“Food is essential all year round, but in the face of a pandemic, it is critical the shelves remain stocked and supplies remain plentiful. America’s farmers and ranchers, and those on the front lines in the food service industry are doing their part,” Perdue stated.
Pate’s office has also reportedly been in touch with Governor Kay Ivey, Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings to request their immediate assistance in designating all agricultural stakeholders as “Critical Infrastructure and Essential Services” and for these vital industries to be allowed to continue to operate unrestricted.
Pate added, “ADAI would like to assure our fellow citizens that our food supply is secure. There is ample sustainable food in our unrestricted supply system to continue to feed Alabamians as the system currently works. There is no reason to feel the need to hoard or to store more food than normal. The food supply chain will continue to operate as normal and will strive to keep the shelves stocked with food and supplies during this pandemic.”
“From growing to transportation, to processing to distribution, the federal government and our state government are committed to allowing all components of the food supply chain to operate unimpeded,” he concluded.
Read more from the Alabama Farmers Federation related to coronavirus here.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn