Wyden: Oregon Should Have a Strategic Food Reserve

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support the creation of strategic food reserves in Oregon as a model for the nation facing emergencies like the current COVID-19 crisis.

In his letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Wyden said the reserves would address year-round food insecurity while preparing the state for increases in food demands during times of emergency.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already fragile food supply chain in Oregon and the nation,” Wyden wrote Perdue. “The farmers and agriculture producers who help feed my state have been hit hard by this pandemic and the need for a program that provides long term stability in times of crisis, has never been more apparent.”

Wyden noted in the letter that USDA has the ability to support farms and ranches with loans, purchases, payments, and other operations as well as the authority to buy and donate food to domestic relief agencies and assist in the development of new domestic markets and marketing facilities for agricultural commodities. 

“I ask the USDA to use its capacity to support the current hunger needs in Oregon and an Oregon specific program that identifies immediate availability of food that is in oversupply and at risk of being dumped due to market disruption,” Wyden wrote. “It can also work with and pay Oregon processors to freeze, aseptically pack, dry, and create shelf-life for their product to go into storage.”

Wyden also asked the Agriculture Department in his letter to provide emergency food supplies to Oregon as soon as possible to fill the current 70 percent rise in demand the Oregon food banks are currently experiencing. 

A copy of the entire letter is here.

To read more about the strategic food reserve, go here.

A web version of this release is here.