- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 30, 2020

Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana is urging the administration to order producers of canned and frozen fruits and vegetables to remain open during the coronavirus crisis, similar to President Trump’s action this week ordering meat-processing plants to keep operating.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Mr. Braun said the supply chain for frozen and canned fruits and vegetables operates “on extremely short harvest and processing windows.”

“It is particularly vulnerable to shortages in labor and personal protective equipment, or other regulatory and administrative barriers that could disrupt the harvest window,” Mr. Braun wrote. “For example, our nation’s annual supply of canned and frozen corn, green beans, tomatoes, peaches and peas are harvested and packed within the span of two to three months.”

Noting that the president used the Defense Production Act to order meat-processing plants to stay open, Mr. Braun said, “I urge you to use this authority to ensure that our nation’s supply chain of canned and frozen fruit and vegetables remains secure.”

“As American citizens do their part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing and other measures, it remains critical that our nation’s canneries and frozen food suppliers are able to keep shelves stocked with a full supply of non-perishable foods,” he said.

A frozen food plant in Oregon closed last week to undergo cleaning after at least eight workers tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Farmers also have been plowing under fresh produce or allowing it to rot in fields due to low demand and lack of storage options.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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