Recognizing the urgent need to address immediate challenges impacting the food supply chain across Pennsylvania, House Republicans urged Gov. Tom Wolf to protect employees, address supply capacity rates and address a packaging material shortage that is resulting in an untold amount of food waste at a time when the state and country need those resources the most.
House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster), Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) and Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) represent vastly different parts of the Commonwealth, but said they are all seeing the effects of the supply chain challenges on their districts and hearing directly from workers, farmers and consumers who are impacted.
A letter sent to the governor and Secretary of of Agriculture Russell Redding states in part: “While we know that plenty of food is being produced at the farm level, we have serious and urgent concerns about the availability of the workforce trained and capable of processing the food, and the availability of necessary packaging in sizes for consumer use. These limitations seem to be contributing to milk dumping, poultry depopulation, vegetables rotting in the fields, and other types of unfortunate raw food waste.”
The letter acknowledges the governor’s recent request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer plans to assist the food supply chain, but the legislators argue more must be done by state leaders, especially in light of the closure of four separate meat processing facilities in Pennsylvania due to hundreds of employees testing positive for COVID-19.
The letter makes requests of the Wolf administration, including “prioritize and provide for rapid Abbott tests for food processing employees that an employer can administer before an employee enters a premise. Alternatively, until those tests and the reagent supply become more widely available, implement a plan to expedite the turnaround of test results for food processing employees.”
Beyond the health and safety of employees, the supply chain is facing a food packaging crisis, as many suppliers are running low, or are already out of packaging sizes required to meet higher-than-usual grocery store needs.
The House members will continue to partner with agriculture leaders and stakeholders across Pennsylvania and the nation to address these growing concerns and urge the governor to take action immediately to ensure the supply is not disrupted any further.