USDA Food Supply Chain Task Force Records

Records from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in response to American Oversight’s request for records concerning a publicly reported Food Supply Chain Task Force. Details on the contents of these records are below.

In the Documents

The documents contain a Food Supply Chain Task Force Initial Report from March 27, 2020. The task force was made up of officials from the Department of Agriculture, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, along with representatives from the private sector. This document, which analyzed the impact of limited personal protective equipment on food supply, is framed as an “initial fact-finding report.”

PPE Allocation: The task force noted that the diversion of personal protective equipment to the health care sector would “interrupt the food supply chain” but said that there was “no determined need to prioritize the allocation of PPE” to the food and agriculture sector.

Reducing PPE Requirements: The task force wrote that implementing reductions in PPE requirements “may then cause reductions in supplies used for other purposes (e.g., a lack of gloves may drive increased use of hand soap, which may then cause shortages for soap).”

Supply Chain Impacts: The task force noted that some companies could run out of their current PPE supply within a week. The report listed possible consequences of such shortages, including supply chain disruptions of milk, produce, poultry, and dry or processed foods. The task force also wrote that with increased numbers of Covid-19 infections, “the need for downtime for cleaning” could exacerbate disruptions in the supply chain.