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While the coronavirus pandemic continues, I can assure the American people that our food supply is strong and safe. We have great patriots working across this country who continue to support our food supply chain.
From the production of equipment, feed and fertilizer; to the farmer who puts the seed in the ground; to the packers, processors and truckers who bring that food to the market; to the grocers getting that food to consumers, America’s food supply is safe and secure.
The bare store shelves you see in some cities across our country are a demand issue, not a supply issue. There is enough food in the United States to feed our citizens.
We have been blessed with some of the most productive farmers in the world and that has made us a food exporter. If people would buy food like they normally do, rather than hoarding or panic buying, we would all be better off.
Consumers should be buying only what is necessary, so their neighbors and fellow Americans can also get what they need.
The supply of food in this country is vast.
There are over 800 commercial and public warehouses in the continental 48 states that store frozen products. Here is a snapshot of the food we had in storage at the end of February: over 302 million pounds of frozen butter; 1.36 billion pounds of frozen cheese; 925 million pounds of frozen chicken; over 1 billion pounds of frozen fruit; nearly 2.04 billion pounds of frozen vegetables; 491 million pounds of frozen beef; and nearly 662 million pounds of frozen pork.
These numbers don’t even include the massive fresh food supply chain that is currently distributing millions of pounds of food every day from the farm to grocery store shelves. The bottom line is we have enough food to feed ourselves during the coronavirus national emergency.
There are over 6,500 food safety workers on the front lines working in 175,642 commercial facilities across the country and inspecting nearly 164 million head of livestock and 9.83 billion poultry carcasses. They are conducting 7.1 million food safety and food defense procedures to verify that systems at all federally inspected facilities continue to maintain food safety requirements. Our food is safe, and we have our inspectors ensuring that remains the case.
If people would buy food like they normally do, rather than hoarding or panic buying, we would all be better off.
Our farmers are doing what needs to be done, putting seed in the ground and moving last year’s harvest to market. They are working today so you can have food for tomorrow.
America’s farmers and ranchers are on the job during this pandemic, but so are their employees. These crops won’t get planted and they won’t get picked if we can’t get them out of the field.
Agriculture depends on a hardworking farm labor force – those working in our fields, packing houses, processing facilities, and dairies. This includes nearly 200,000 temporary agricultural foreign workers here under the H-2A visa program.
There is a real farm labor shortage in America and these workers contribute to keeping us fed and keeping our national security through food security. The State Department has instituted new procedures that have allowed us to continue to process H-2A workers and has streamlined the application process to ensure we have this critical workforce during this national emergency.
These workers are critical to ensuring the continued strength and safety of our food supply chain.
I know we will get through the coronavirus pandemic because I have great trust and faith in the hardworking Americans across this country who embody everything that is just and right about our nation.
Those who are attending to the sick and the suffering in hospitals and clinics, those tending the fields and bringing food to the people who need it, and the folks who are following the guidance of the White House Coronavirus Task Force by staying at home to stop the spread of the virus are all doing their part.
Thank you all for doing for you are doing. Your commitment, perseverance and service to our nation and your neighbors is what will see us through this pandemic.