Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate issued a release Thursday aimed at reassuring Alabamians the state has ample food, and the Department is doing its part to keep the supply chain moving.
“Our duty is to protect food safety, ensure animal health, permit the movement of plants and the use of pesticides while regulating the weighing and measuring devices needed in industry,” said Pate. “We fulfill our regulatory responsibilities so that the food and agriculture industries of Alabama can continue to provide a safe and secure food supply. Alabama’s agricultural producers and related industries not only provide food and fiber to its citizens, but to the rest of the country and the world.”
Pate said he’s directed the 350 employees of ADAI to work at home, as needed, to limit the spread of COVID-19. The Richard Beard Building and Diagnostic Labs in Auburn, Elba, Boaz and Hanceville remain open.
“Our office has been in touch with Gov. Kay Ivey, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and Alabama EMA Director Brian Hastings to request their immediate assistance in designating all agricultural stakeholders as ‘Critical Infrastructure and Essential Services’ and for these vital industries to be allowed to continue to operate unrestricted,” said Pate’s release.
Pate and other state commissioners of agriculture also participated in a conference call Wednesday with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. He said Perdue assured the group that USDA is coordinating with other federal agencies to ensure actions taken to combat COVID-19 do not adversely impact the national food supply or logistics systems supporting those industries.
“Food is essential all year round, but in the face of a pandemic, it is critical the shelves remain stocked and supplies remain plentiful. America’s farmers and ranchers, and those on the front lines in the food service industry are doing their part,” said Perdue.
Pate cautioned consumers about hoarding food.
“There is ample sustainable food in our unrestricted supply system to continue to feed Alabamians as the system currently works,” his release said. “There is no reason to feel the need to hoard or to store more food than normal. The food supply chain will continue to operate as normal, and will strive to keep the shelves stocked with food and supplies during this pandemic. From growing to transportation, to processing to distribution, the federal government and our state government are committed to allowing all components of the food supply chain to operate unimpeded.”