As our country continues to confront the challenges that come with the coronavirus pandemic, we are witnessing the work of everyday heroes in all parts of our community. We see a lot of these stories on the nightly news, but so many men and women are working behind the scenes and under the radar to make sure we have a safe, consistent supply of food on grocery store shelves and on our kitchen tables.
It’s easy to forget the times before coronavirus, but it’s worth pointing out that American farmers and ranchers faced some of their most uncertain and challenging times in a generation even before COVID- 19 hit. Despite unprecedented market uncertainty, a terrible farm economy and the ongoing trade wars, farmers have stepped up to make sure their neighbors and customers across the country have what they need, all while things out of their control make their everyday lives even more uncertain.
That uncertainty also faces our farm workers and food processing workers as they continue to pick, process, and package the food products we enjoy at every meal. Americans demand a steady supply of meat, dairy, and fruits and vegetables, and these workers take pride in their role working toward that goal. At every turn, though, we need to make sure those dedicated workers have a safe environment to continue providing that supply. That means testing and personal protective equipment, and a thoughtful plan from employers, as well as state, local, and federal governments, to keep them safe as they return to work.
After food leaves production and processing facilities, the supply chain folks working to haul that food to grocery stores are putting their own safety at risk to make sure that food gets where it needs to go, quickly and reliably.
At the nearest end of the food chain to consumers are the grocery and food relief workers on the frontlines every day making sure shelves are stocked with the products shoppers need, and community feeding operations can continue to provide meals to folks in need. Lines stretch at grocery stores and food banks while workers and volunteers go the extra mile to make sure people in their communities have food. As many restaurants have been forced to lay off employees, they have kept their kitchens open so their neighbors have an option for food. While their direct interaction with the public places them in harm’s way, these people resolutely clock in to work and show up to volunteer because they know their communities are counting on them.
As the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, I hear the concerns firsthand from these brave men and women, and I’m committed to getting the answers to their questions. We’re going to continue to face hardships before we’re out of the woods and while there isn’t an instant or easy fix, I, my colleagues and my staff are working nonstop to find a responsible path forward that keeps people safe and food plentiful.
Our nation has been challenged before, and we’ve always looked to everyday heroes—soldiers, first responders, teachers, doctors, and others—to pull us through. This particular challenge puts a spotlight on the importance of a safe and reliable domestic food supply chain. Now, even as their health and the future of their own livelihoods hangs in the balance, the men and women that provide our food are showing the rest of the nation their strength.
We as a country owe them our gratitude, today and every day.
Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonGroup of House Democrats asks for 0 billion for testing The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Chef José Andrés says most political leaders today are not acting with urgency; Dems crafting ‘Rooseveltian’ relief package The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: BIO CEO Greenwood says US failed for years to heed warnings of coming pandemic; Trump: Fauci won’t testify to ‘a bunch of Trump haters’ MORE represents the 7th District of Minnesota in the House, where he serves as chairman of the Committee on Agriculture.