Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

Farmers Working to Help Keep Food on Store Shelves

Podcasts / Newsline March 17, 2020

Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture / CC0 

The American Farm Bureau Federation is concerned about the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on agriculture. Chad Smith has more.

Smith: American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says his organization is concerned about the coronavirus’s impact on agriculture, specifically on the flow of skilled immigrant labor. First and foremost, Duvall says the Farm Bureau is grateful to everyone working on keeping America supplied with foods and safe from the outbreak.

Duvall: We’re very grateful to our health care providers and our first responders for protecting our communities and our families, and those people that are transporting our food that we raise and the people that are stocking the shelves in our grocery stores to make sure that Americans are fed. But we are closely watching and monitoring for any disruption in the food supply chain.

Smith: Duvall says a recent decision by the State Department to stop processing many H-2A visa applications in Mexico will make it much harder for American farmers to keep the country supplied with food if they don’t have enough labor.

Duvall: American farmers will not have access to the skilled immigrant labor needed at this critical time of planting season and harvesting our spring crops. We are urging the administration to find a safe and practical way to admit farm laborers as emergency workers for visas, while still protecting the public health. Failing to do so will impact our ability to provide a healthy, affordable food supply.

Smith: He says the Farm Bureau will keep an eye out for any disruptions that prevent American consumers from having access to enough food.

Duvall: We at American Farm Bureau will remain watchful and vigilant to ensure that U.S. agriculture and others in the food supply chain are able to continue feeding America, just like we do 365 days a year. It’s important that Americans know that the farmers and ranchers nationwide are continuing to produce the food we all rely on.

Smith: Chad Smith, Washington.

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