NCBA CLUSA joined nearly 50 organizations last week in supporting the Food Supply Protection Act, introduced by Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow. NCBA CLUSA members National Farmers Union and Organic Valley also joined as supporters of the Food Supply Protection Act.
With many restaurants, schools and other major food purchasers still operating at a limited capacity for public health safety, this legislation seeks to reduce the strain on farmers, food processors and food banks through creative new partnerships and programs to help food distribution reach where it is most needed.
Senator Stabenow said, “The COVID-19 crisis has tested the strength of our nation’s food supply chain, creating a ripple effect that’s harming our families, farmers and workers. This bill will help strengthen our food supply by redirecting food to families and helping farmers and processors retool their operations.”
In a press release, Ranking Member Stabenow described the focus of the Food Supply Protection Act as the following:
- Support food banks and non-profits to help increase their capacity and address growing demand. The bill will provide infrastructure grants that can be used for additional cold storage and refrigeration, transportation, personal protective equipment, rental costs, and additional use of commercial and community infrastructure.
- Strengthen food partnerships to prevent food waste and feed families. Through grants and reimbursements, the bill will support new partnerships to make purchases of excess food and increase donations to food banks, schools, nonprofits. These partnerships will promote innovative collaborations with chefs and restaurants and focus on the needs and creative solutions in local communities. They will allow for a diverse variety of purchases and include many areas and products left out of the USDA’s current food box program to ensure more people in need and agricultural producers of all sizes and types can access support.
- Protect workers and retool small and medium-sized food processors. Through grants, loans, and loan guarantees, the bill will support upgrading machinery, temporary cold storage, purchasing personal protective equipment and test kits, and cleaning. This funding will assist farmers and small and medium-sized food processors in protecting their workers and help them cater to new markets so they can continue operations and alleviate bottlenecks in the supply chain.
Importantly, this legislation includes farmer cooperatives and other types of business cooperatives as eligible entities in its targeted relief on the food supply chain.
Other notable figures that joined in supporting this legislation include Chef José Andrés, the Founder of World Central Kitchen; the James Beard Foundation; and Feeding America.
A list of supporters of the Food Supply Protection Act is available here.