Senators Reintroduce Bipartisan Food Supply Protection Act

Two efforts call for change for the sake of human and environmental health ( Wyatt Bechtel )

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), reintroduced the Food Supply Protection Act with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to help protect the food supply after the COVID-19 crisis has put an unprecedented strain on farmers, workers, food banks and families.
“The COVID-19 crisis has continued to disrupt our nation’s food supply chain, creating a ripple effect that’s harming our families, farmers and workers,” Stabenow said in a release. “Our bipartisan bill will help strengthen our food supply by redirecting food to families and helping farmers and processors retool their operations. It is critical that it becomes law as soon as possible.”
Originally introduced in May, the Food Supply Protection Act will help fill the gaps in the broken food supply chain, reduce food waste and help farmers, workers, processors, food banks and families in need.

Specifically, the Food Supply Protection Act will support food banks and non-profits to help increase their capacity and address growing demand, strengthen food partnerships to prevent food waste and feed families and protect workers and retool small and medium-sized food processors. 

“Every link in the food system, from farm to fork, is experiencing serious disruptions right now. If left unchecked, these disruptions could threaten farmers' livelihoods and undermine national food security,” said Rob Larew, President of the National Farmers Union, in the release. “But by both facilitating the acquisition and distribution of surplus food from farmers to food banks as well as helping food and agricultural businesses adapt to new challenges, the Food Supply Protection Act will help ensure that food continues to flow safely and efficiently from farmers' fields to consumers' plates.”

Demand has shifted from restaurants and food service to retail and food donations, causing bottlelenecks in the supply chain. Outbreaks of COVID-19 and absenteeism in meat processing plants and food production facilities have slowed food production across the country. 

“Dairy farmers and manufacturers continue to endure significant headwinds on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, and American households across the country are facing massive economic pain and uncertainty," said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, in the release.

The reintroduced bipartisan bill will provide more flexibility for states and tribes to distribute food to those in need, particularly in rural areas that lack nonprofit infrastructure. The bill increases the grant funding available to farmers and processors from $1 million to $2.5 million. 
In addition to Senators Stabenow and Murkowski, the bill is co-sponsored by Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Robert Casey (D-Penn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).
The Food Supply Protection Act is supported by over 50 food and agricultural organizations, including the National Pork Producers Council, the National Farmers Union, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the National Milk Producers Association, U.S. Cattlemen's Association, United Farm Workers Foundation, and more.

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