Monday, May 25, 2020 - Secretary Tom Vilsack discusses the impact of the Coronavirus on the agriculture industry, farmers, and rural economies. The impact could change the industry forever and alter how the country gets its food.
Tom Vilsack was the governor of Iowa from 1999 until 2007 before serving as President Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture. Since 2017, he has served as the president and CEO of the US Dairy Export Council, a trade group representing the interest of US dairy producers. Today, he discusses the unique impact the pandemic is having on agriculture, farmers, and rural economies.
US agriculture has been hit hard by this virus. As Secretary Vilsack explains, school closures have decreased the demand for milk. Restaurant closures have hit demand for produce and meat. Secretary Vilsack suggests two courses of action moving forward: first, we must determine a way for those who have lost their jobs to purchase more through additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. And second, we need to improve the disconnect between the demand of food banks and the supply of retailers. To do this, financial incentives should be given to farmers to donate rather than dump produce.
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