Rep. Grijalva Sends Letter to USDA and Commerce Dept, Expresses Concern Over COVID-19
TUCSON— Today, Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), and Greg Stanton (AZ-09) sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross requesting a temporary suspension or waiver of additional inspections of imported fruit and vegetables coming into the United States through Arizona and urging the implementation of new, rigorous health and hygiene protocols.
“As our nation faces a pandemic, we must take the appropriate measures that protect our communities, and this includes reevaluating existing policies to ensure they follow CDC guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Rep. Grijalva. “Social distancing is already difficult in the fresh produce industry. Including additional inspections creates more unnecessary human contact and poses a grave public health concern to my constituents. Other agencies, including FDA and certain divisions within USDA, have already suspended or altered some of the on-site inspections and audit requirements to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. I urge Secretary Perdue and Secretary Ross to give us that same consideration or define the safety protocols and guidelines in place to help prevent an outbreak in a high-concentration area.”
The lawmakers wrote in their letter:
“Current procedures require inspectors to move from warehouse to warehouse, creating an inherent risk of the spread of COVID-19 thereby defeating all the strict measures already at work at each distribution center.
“For the safety of Arizonans and our nation’s food supply, we request an immediate suspension or waiver of the requirement for quality inspections, until such time that the necessary health and hygiene protocols are in place in order to minimize the possible impacts of COVID-19.”
Click here to read the letter.