Agriculture Secretary calms fears about coronavirus impact on food supply

Agriculture Secretary calms fears about coronavirus impact on food supply (Source: Gray DC)
Agriculture Secretary calms fears about coronavirus impact on food supply (Source: Gray DC)(GRAYDC)
Published: Mar. 19, 2020 at 3:56 PM EDT
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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue sat down one-on-one with Gray Television Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro to discuss the safety and security of our nation's food supply.

You can read part of the interview below and watch the full interview above.

Question: Mr. Secretary, we've all seen the photos of empty store shelves. Is there enough food to feed the American people? And what are you doing to help make sure food stays on the shelves?

Answer: Well the good news is, Jacqueline, there is enough food. Obviously, we are having a demand rush...I think if people would just relax a little bit, and not try to hoard, or get more than what they need in a continual basis, then we are going to be fine. The stores probably need a little more hours to clean good and replenish those shelves, but the good news is we do have plenty of food in our food supply chain. We've got the best food supply chain network in the world, and it's functioning well, and we're going to keep it that way.

Q: Our food is handled by a lot of people before it gets to us. Is it safe?

A: It is safe. Obviously, we have some real heroes in our USDA. Our food safety inspection workers are there on the job looking at every animal that comes through just the way they always have been. It's very critical. This food is just as safe as it had been. There is virtually no transmission from food that we've been aware of.

Q: What about the price? Are things going to get more expensive?

A: We've been blessed in this country. We've got the lowest cost food in the world compared to even other well-developed countries. So, we may see some rises in different places. We're seeing excellent demand for beef and pork and poultry and protein now, as well as eggs. So, we may see some of that go up, but we can't predict that right now. That's the way the market works. And I think once we settle back down, hopefully sooner rather than later, we'll see prices back to where we've seen them.

Q: Children are out of school right now. What are you doing to make sure they're still getting meals every day?

A: We've issued waivers to all of our schools. Similar to a summer feeding program where they would have the meals and the kids would come there and pick them up in urban areas. But we're actually working on that works to deliver them for rural kids who can't get into town.

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