The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture is detailing what is being done to enhance the nation's food system following the COVID-19 pandemic.  NASDA CEO Ted McKinney says early in the pandemic there were shortages of products from paper to food, but that the shortages were only temporary and are being overstated now in retrospect.  Changes that have already been made to increase the nation's food system security include federal funds that were released to add capacity to smaller meat and dairy producers as well as the Ocean Shipping Reform Act.  The bipartisan legislation aims to addresses unreasonable ocean carrier practices that many say are undermining the competitiveness of U.S. exports. A version of the bill has passed out of both chambers of Congress but still needs to be reconciled before being sent to the president's desk.

McKinney said that despite the progress being made the country must do more for processors in general, naming three enhancements to he would like to see to strengthen the food system.  McKinney is in favor of rolling out even more funding for smaller processors to expand.  While he said it won't do much in the large scheme of things, it could be very helpful should another crisis in the food system arise.  Secondly, McKinney is proposing a way to improve the flow of product that might otherwise be constrained by each state's borders.

"We'd love to see some possible policy changes that allow states that inspect meat, poultry, fish etc., to let that inspection move on into other states.  Particularly when they are trained, and they have the same inspection regimen as a federal inspector."

Finally, McKinney is suggesting NASDA members use the blunt hand of the bully pulpit.

"They often times sit on boards that look after infrastructure including highways and ports. So in that sense, in the long-term, they have a policy position that could be instrumental because they are the ones that know the most about food and agriculture and the perishability of products like produce, meats and so forth."

Click Here for additional details from the NASDA.

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