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Senators want action on food safety

Senate Democrats call on administration to protect food supply, food workers from COVID-19.

A group of 36 Democratic senators is urging the Trump administration to take action to ensure the safety of the nation's food supply and protect essential workers in the food supply chain.

“It is vital that we do everything we can to protect food supply workers,” wrote 36 senators in a letter to members of the Trump administration. “Breakdowns in the food supply chain could have significant economic impacts for both consumers and agricultural producers. It is also imperative that precautions are taken to ensure the stability and safety of our food supply.”

There have been numerous reports of essential workers in meatpacking plants, processing facilities, farms, grocery stores, and markets falling ill from COVID-19. Some workers have reportedly felt pressured to go to work even when feeling sick. There are also serious concerns about the health of farmworkers who often work, live, and travel in close proximity, making social distancing very difficult.

“The severe shortages of adequate COVID-19 testing capability and personal protective equipment are exacerbating these problems,” wrote the senators. “Lack of access to tests and personal protective equipment leaves essential food supply workers at even higher risk and makes the virus more likely to spread, harming more workers and further damaging our food supply chain.”

The senators urged the White House and federal agencies to coordinate with state and local governments and the private sector to take aggressive action to protect essential workers and the food supply from further damage. The senators also asked a series of questions about the actions being taken and coordination with the food industry.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry led the letter. In addition to Stabenow, it was signed by the following Democratic and Indepent senators:

  • Gary Peters, Michigan;
  • Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, Maryland,
  • Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, Connecticut,
  • Michael Bennet, Colorado;
  • Jeff Merkley, Oregon;
  • Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts; 
  • Jackie Rosen, Nevada;
  • Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, New York;  
  • Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, New Jersey;
  • Robert Casey, Pennsylvania;
  • Jack Reed, Rhode Island;
  • Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, Virgina;   
  • Tom Carper and Chris Coons, Delaware;
  • Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, Illinois; 
  • Angus King, I-Maine; 
  • Mazie Hirono, Hawaii;
  • Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire; 
  • Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota;
  • Ron Wyden, Oregon;,
  • Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, California, 
  • Sherrod Brown, Ohio; 
  • Patty Murray, Washington; 
  • Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, Vermont;
  • Doug Jones, Alabama; and
  • Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin.

The letter was sent to Vice President Pence, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Food and Drug Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.

Source: Office of Sen. Debbie Stabenow, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 

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