WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is urging President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to support funding and reforms to help Wisconsin’s farmers and food industry in upcoming COVID-19 response legislation. Baldwin is calling for the federal government to quickly direct resources to states and local communities so they can work with food and agriculture stakeholders to stabilize the food supply chain, address serious threats to worker safety, and avoid severe economic losses in rural Wisconsin.
As Wisconsin faces severe agriculture and food supply chain challenges as a result of COVID-19, Senator Baldwin is urging the administration to create Food and Agriculture Emergency Block Grants for States to help agriculture and food processing businesses solve coronavirus-related challenges. Specifically, Baldwin notes this emergency funding would help businesses reprocess food-service scale products to family-sized packages, connect businesses with new customers, prevent the waste of food, address shifting workforce needs, ensure workers have safety protections, and respond to changing consumer demand during this public health crisis.
Baldwin writes, “Our nation is facing severe agriculture and food supply chain challenges as a result of the temporary, but necessary, steps people across our country are taking to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in their communities and to protect the health of vulnerable Americans.”
She continues, “In Wisconsin we are already feeling these impacts acutely. Dairy farmers have suddenly lost markets and been unable to find a place to process their milk in time, so they have been forced to dispose of it. Farmers with livestock that are ready for market have seen the value of their work and quality of their meat wasted for lack of a stable supply chain. Local farmers whose livelihoods depend on the success of restaurants serving their locally-grown products have seen their entire businesses upended, all at one of the busiest and costliest times of the year—spring planting. The economic losses predicted from these impacts are staggering, and if we respond rapidly, we can help to reduce the worst losses. Without restoring supply chains and the economic impact they fuel, we could see many farms close and food processing businesses shut their doors permanently, despite the temporary nature of these disruptions.”
Baldwin concludes, “These supply chain issues are unfolding rapidly and shifting from week to week. In order for responses to be effective in moving food, stabilizing the rural economy, and feeding people across our country, we need to act quickly and locally. For this reason, I urge you to support Food and Agriculture Emergency Block Grants to States … Thank you in advance for your attention to this request for support to our states as they work with their farmers and food businesses to feed our nation in crisis.”
The full letter is available here.