OPINION The U.S. Department of Agriculture is rising to meet the challenges associated with the new coronavirus disease, Covid-19. As leaders of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Agricultural Marketing Service, we can assure the agencies are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our employees while still providing timely delivery of services to maintain the movement of America’s food supply from farm to fork.
The agencies are prepared to utilize their authority as well as all administrative means and flexibilities to address staffing considerations. Field personnel will be working closely with establishment management as well as state and local health authorities to handle situations as they arise in communities. As always, communication between industry and government will be key. We are all relying on early and frequent communication with one another to overcome challenges as they arise.
In this time of much uncertainty, we know many have questions about how the department will continue to ensure that grading and inspection personnel are available. We have all seen how consumers have reacted to the evolving coronavirus situation, and how important access to food is to a sense of safety and wellbeing. It’s more important than ever that we assure the American public that government and industry will take all steps necessary to ensure continued access to safe and wholesome USDA-inspected products.
As we come together as a country to address this public-health threat, know that USDA remains committed to working closely with industry to fulfill our mission of ensuring the safety of the U.S. food supply and protecting agricultural health.