After Urging the Administration to Ensure a Secure Food Supply Chain, Ernst Welcomes Action by President

On Monday, the Iowa senator joined other state leaders in calling for the administration to use any tool – including the Defense Production Act – to support Iowa producers and workers

RED OAK, Iowa – After urging the administration to use any tool they had to keep workers safe, ensure a secure food supply chain, and support Iowa’s pork producers – including utilizing the Defense Production Act – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) welcomes the action taken by the president.

“As the number one pork-producing state in the country, Iowa’s producers and meat processing plants play a critical role in our nation’s food supply. This week, without a market to go to, our producers are facing grave decisions to euthanize their hogs, which is why I joined my fellow Iowa leaders in calling on the administration for immediate action and assistance, including using the Defense Production Act. The president has heeded our calls, and is taking this very strong step in making sure our nation’s food supply chain remains secure and strong: from farmer to plant, to grocery store, to kitchen table.

“We must ensure the hardworking Iowans – the essential, front line workers during COVID-19 – at these processing plants are safe. That’s why I’m glad to see that as part of this action, the president has directed Secretary Perdue to get any and all necessary materials and resources, like personal protective equipment, to our workers. In addition, there’s no question that our processing plants must adhere to important safety guidelines to protect the health of Iowa’s workers,” said Senator Joni Ernst, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy.

On Monday, in a letter to the administration, Senator Ernst – along with Senator Grassley, Governor Reynolds, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig – called for immediate assistance for Iowa’s pork producers and the nation’s food supply chain, including invoking the Defense Production Act.

Background:

Over the weekend, Ernst commended the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) announced plans to establish a coordination center to help producers – like so many in Iowa – affected by the meat processing plant closures.

In addition, Ernst has written a letter to the vice president calling on the administration to ensure the U.S. maintains a strong, secure food supply chain. She also joined a bipartisan, bicameral letter urging USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to take immediate action to assist pork producers and maintain the pork food supply chain.

Ernst has also urged the administration to eliminate payment limits for Iowa’s livestock, dairy, and specialty crop producers, so they can get the relief they need during COVID-19. 

Ernst successfully pushed the SBA to ensure Iowa’s farmers are able to access Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), and as a result of relief package the president signed yesterday, farmers will have access to these loans. In the bipartisan package there is also increased funding for the EIDL program – which will help businesses, and now farmers, across Iowa.

Recently, Ernst hosted a telephone town hall with thousands of Iowa’s farmers and producers, and was joined by Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig.

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