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Costa Statement on Roundtable Discussion on USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service

Yesterday, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Chairman Jim Costa (CA-16) hosted a roundtable, in which USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Mindy M. Brashears and Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Paul Kiecker answered questions about the impact of COVID-19 on food supply chains.

“Over the last four months, America’s food supply chain has been turned upside down,” said Costa. “Shelter-in-place orders and social distancing have closed our schools and restaurants. However, the production and processing of food is clearly still an essential service. As a result, getting food to America’s dinner table while ensuring worker safety is critical.”

Members of the Committee had an opportunity to ask Dr. Brashears about USDA’s efforts to protect their own inspectors in plants and their coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration pursuant to the President’s April 28th Executive Order, while also simultaneously ensuring that healthy and nutritious food gets to America’s dinner table. With a reported 25,000 food processing workers and numerous USDA inspectors having tested positive for COVID-19, Subcommittee Chairman Costa indicated that we have to do much better.

Chairman Costa requested that Dr. Brashears and Mr. Kiecker continue to work with the Subcommittee on their priorities for reducing the impact of COVID-19 on the food supply chain. The Subcommittee looks forward to the feedback that USDA will provide as negotiations on future response packages continue. It’s critical the Subcommittee maintain its important oversight role because the production of food and fiber for all Americans is a national security issue. We look forward to continuing to work with USDA on all related issues.
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