Work group would identify solutions to issues exposed by COVID-19 pandemic
(Albany, NY) – Legislation designed to improve the resiliency of New York’s food supply chain passed both houses of the State Legislature this week. The bill (A10607/S8561) from Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Jen Metzger, the Agriculture Committee Chairs in their respective houses, would create a working group of stakeholders to provide guidance and recommendations on New York’s food supply and related supply chain logistics in the wake of COVID-19.
“The COVID pandemic exposed a number of fundamental weaknesses in our food supply chain,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (AD-123). “This working group will help the state’s agriculture industry adapt to similar disruptions in the future. There is no reason we should ever experience the bottlenecks in processing and distribution that occurred this year, causing food to be disposed of while food pantries and grocery stores struggled to keep up.”
“One of the lessons of this pandemic is the need to strengthen our regional food systems to help reduce our vulnerability to disruptions in national supply chains while also supporting local farms and food businesses,” said Senator Metzger (SD-42). “We need to re-evaluate state policies in light of what we’ve learned, build on innovative initiatives like Nourish NY, and bring new ideas to the table. This is an opportune moment that this legislation seeks to capitalize on to build back stronger and better.”
The legislation would authorize the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, in coordination with the Commissioner of Economic Development, to establish a New York food supply working group. The group would include representatives from farming, food processing, food retail, foodservice, wholesalers, food transporters, labor, emergency food providers, academia, government representatives and others. Through a series of meetings and roundtables, policy recommendations would be advanced to strengthen and protect NY’s food supply chain. Having passed both houses, the bill will now go to the Governor’s desk for signature.
“The food supply chain in the U.S. has developed into a highly efficient, and in some cases complex, system,” said David Grusenmeyer, Executive Director of the NY Farm Viability Institute. “Between the producers and consumers is a web of individuals and companies providing critical inputs, along with essential processing, transportation, storage, and marketing services. Disruptions can cause angst and concerns on both ends and all the way through the chain, as demonstrated by the pandemic last spring. That’s why efforts like this to assess all the links in the food supply chain and foster understanding and communication between them is so important. It’s sure to lead to quicker responses and fixes when things go awry.”