Farm Bureau writes Perdue about concerns surrounding coronavirus
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall today sent Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue a letter listing the concerns of farmers and ranchers surrounding the outbreak of the coronavirus.
At the top of the list was access to foreign farm workers in light of the closure of the U.S. embassy and consulates in Mexico.
On a telephone briefing for reporters, a Farm Bureau official noted that 90% of workers come from Mexico, but that substantial numbers also come from South Africa, Jamaica, Peru and Guatemala. Asked about what assistance farmers might need through the package that Congress will consider this week, Duvall said Farm Bureau’s priority at this time is farmers’ needs as the spring planting season approaches.
After labor, Duvall said, the biggest issue is transportation so that farmers can get inputs such as fertilizer and transportation of products such as milk, fruits and vegetables and live animals from the farm to market. Duvall noted that the Transportation Department has provided some relief from restrictions on drivers’ hours but that the relief does not apply to the movement of livestock and poultry to processing facilities; movement of grain, feed, and medication for both livestock and poultry; or movement of perishable and non-perishable foods and beverages to manufacturing facilities, distribution centers, restaurants and other locations.
–The Hagstrom Report