Learning from COVID-19 to keep the food supply chain secure

Since early spring, pandemic disruptions have rippled through America’s food supply chain. As the industry adjusts, leaders reflect on lessons learned and share ideas to face new food security risks.

Disruptions in domestic food supply has highlighted some vulnerable spots in America’s distribution system. Positive coronavirus cases at meat processing plants slowed business.

National Pork Producers Council veterinarian Liz Wagstrom says that the livestock industry was not prepared for the back up of cattle and hogs: “Our national veterinary stockpile was not equipped to handle large animals.”

Also, challenges on the human health side showed the ag industry it must be better equipped for fast spreading diseases.

“We know that we need to be prepared to survey for foot and mouth disease and classical swine disease, for African swine fever and we need... easy-to-use tests,” Wagstrom said.

Ag leaders want Congress to add more biosecurity aid to the next relief package. Wagstrom specifically said laboratories need to have increased capacity.

House Ag Committee Ranking Member, Mike Conaway says that if we do not invest in food security then trade could be in trouble.

“USDA is the gold standard for food safety around the world and we rely on that reputation to facilitate our trade agreements around the world,” he said.

A strained food system could open the door for outside threats.

According to Everett Hoekstra with Boehringer-Ingelheim, “For sure, terrorist organizations look at that and say, ‘hmmm that’s an opportunity, is there something that we could do there that could create havoc in the world’s economy.’”

To ensure food security for all, the ag industry must find innovative solutions.

Ag groups in favor of foot and mount vaccine bank.

National Pork Board on AFS

U.S. pork industry launches project to identify biosecurity gaps.

Cattle producers should have biosecurity plans.

Planning for an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Presidential candidates address the resiliency of the food supply chain.