The Indiana State Department of Agriculture has a new road map going forward as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. ISDA’s “Rural Road to Recovery” lists out four priorities of the department. The first is to assess and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the food system.
ISDA Director Bruce Kettler says the food supply chain was pretty resilient, but it wasn’t perfect. They’re working to add more capacity.
“We are currently doing a lot of work with the small and medium sized processors in the state of Indiana to figure out what we can do and change. Those folks will tell you they’re still booked out a year, in some cases a year and a half, currently as we work through this.”
Kettler adds though that you can’t just add capacity immediately.
“One, you’ve got to be able to build buildings and facilities to be able to make that happen. You’ve also got to be able to find people that you can train to bring into those facilities.”
Kettler says food safety will remain the number one priority.
“Well, we know we’ve got to add resiliency and bring in more capacity. We can’t do it, and dare I say won’t do it, at the expense of making sure that that food is brought to people safely. There’s a good reason we have inspection services and people that are trained to do that. They have to be able to do it safely, and I think most people would understand we don’t want to do this at the expense of having people have unsafe food. They don’t want that. They expect the food to be safe and should expect that it’ll be safe.”
Other priorities of ISDA’s “Rural Road to Recovery” plan include expanding broadband access, expanding access to information about personal health and financial stability of farmers and agribusinesses, and strengthening the pipeline of individuals seeking careers in agriculture.
You can learn more about the plan here.