Building A Stronger Ag System
The COVID-19 pandemic made clear that the nation’s agriculture system was not ready for the level of disruption that occurred. From policymakers to producers it was clear that something has to be done to shore up the system before the next pandemic or major event can happen.
The USDA says it is working on building a more resilient food system to prevent supply chain disruptions from happening again.
USDA Deputy Undersecretary Mae Wu recently spoke to the agency’s news service.
WU: “The next crisis might be another pandemic or it could be something driven by our changing climate. Those are the types of things that we’re trying to prepare for. That’s what we’re trying to prepare for whatever it is that our next crisis is.
Our food system broke down and we are in the process of rebuilding it but we don’t want to rebuild it to the old system that we had. This is our chance to rebuild it into something new and better and stronger and healthier and more equitable.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently floated the idea of building small
local and regional ag systems where small and medium-size producers have a local market that accurately values their produce and animal production and will compete on a local and regional scale, and not have prices dictated by large ag entities.
Deputy Secretary Wu says the USDA wants to hear from regional producers about value-added agriculture and new ag markets and how best to transform the food system.
She says they also want to hear ideas about how to better meet the needs of small and mid-sized producers, protect the agriculture workforce and promote consumer nutrition, especially in underserved areas.