During Vice President Pence’s roundtable discussion on the food supply chain, held at HyVee headquarters in West Des Moines, a lot was discussed about the food supply chain. At the table were representatives of several of those links: meatpackers, grocery stores, and perhaps the most important link of them all; farmers. Without that first link, there is no chain. That was the message of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall.
Audio: AFBF President Zippy Duvall’s full remarks at West Des Moines roundtable.
Duvall told a story about his arrival in Des Moines. He told the story of a cab driver that he interacted with. Duvall said he and the driver discussed the economy. The cab driver feared not having a job tomorrow, or not having enough food to feed his family. Duvall said it was an excellent description of the fears the American consumer has during this pandemic, and the new awareness they have for the role played by the American farmer.
Duvall talked about the food supply chain. He told the group that without farmers there simply is no chain. He said the American farmer is committed to keeping this supply chain going at their end. Farmers are committed to fighting this pandemic and keeping food on American tables.
When discussing the frustrations American consumers are having when they see empty shelves, Duvall tells them, “This is not a supply issue. It’s a supply chain issue.” Duvall says they are working with the Administration to ensure we can keep the supply chain full. However, he stressed the fact that the workers at meatpacking facilities need to be protected, and that their families need to be protected.
President Duvall says farmers are “coming unhinged.” He says that farmers see rock-bottom prices that farmers receive and sky-high prices at the store. He said the AFBF looks forward to seeing the results of Federal investigations into the possibility of market manipulation.
Duvall talked about a “triple-whammy” facing American corn farmers. The loss of ethanol demand because of the damage they have faced, trade concerns with China holding up their end of the phase-one trade agreement, and the loss of livestock feed demand.
Duvall talked about how the disruptions in processing are not just related to meat, but also dairy and vegetables. Duvall calls the choices some farmers must make, “gut-wrenching.” Duvall says it is imperative that the administration does everything it can to ensure processors can safely get back to one hundred percent.
Duvall says they look forward to having more discussions about keeping the most important link in the most important chain strong and vital during a challenging time.