ARLINGTON, VA. – Recently, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) shared its recommendations to the US Department of Agriculture regarding the American food supply system, including public-private partnerships, local meat processing infrastructure and ensure the industry labor force. 

NASDA’s discussed its Food Security Toolkit, which was a report on state food security programs and how it found highly successful programs are supported by federal grants and led by public organizations and private companies. 

“We’re grateful USDA opened this conversation on how we can continue to build up our food supply system,” said Barb Glenn, chief executive officer for NASDA. “Our state agriculture department leaders managed to overcome remarkable supply and demand obstacles during the COVID-19 pandemic, and through it, they earned new perspectives on what federal resources support farmers and communities best, and where our food system still remains vulnerable to new disruptions.”

Glenn explained that with proper resources state agriculture departments can implement federal programs by forming influential partnerships. One of the major issues is the cold storage infrastructure and how it limits NASDA members in regional food supply chains. 

“The last mile of food distribution remains a challenge that threatens our supply chain’s resiliency,” Glenn stated. “Providing resources to secure refrigerated trucks and cold storage lockers on the farm and for charitable food distributors would have a dramatic effect on improving local and regional food security.”

Additionally, NASDA stated that improvements must be made in farmers and ranchers’ access to markets. The association said 27 state departments of agriculture operate state meat and poultry inspection programs. Investment in small-scale meat processors is a priority for many farmers and ranchers. 

“We stand ready to help facilitate future opportunities to expand small meat processors’ capacity and effectively fulfill demand without compromising animal welfare, food safety or worker health,” Glenn said.