Vilsack: Vaccine requirement won’t close FSA offices
The Biden administration’s requirement that all federal employees including the employees of the Farm Service Agency be vaccinated against COVID-19 will not cause FSA offices to close or farmers to received a reduced level of service, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today, Oct. 7, at a House Agriculture Committee hearing.
Rep. Vicki Hartzler, R-Mo., told Vilsack that she fears that the reluctance of some employees to be vaccinated may cause FSA offices to close or to provide reduced service to farmers.
Hartzler asked Vilsack if he has considered exemptions to the vaccine requirement. Vilsack responded that there are exemptions for religious and health reasons.
Then he added, “We will do what we need to do to keep offices open. I don’t anticipate we will see a significant number of closed offices.”
Hartzler thanked him for his response.
Vilsack was testifying at a hearing on the state of the livestock industry, and presented testimony on USDA efforts ranging from developing a vaccine for African Swine Fever to assistance to producers and companies affected by COVID-19 to activities related to complaints that beef markets are not operating properly.
Many members of the committee asked Vilsack questions about the full range of USDA activities.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., said he is pleased by the development of a vaccine for African Swine Fever and Vilsack said there are seven vaccines in development.
Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., ranking member on the committee, said that “despite what we may hear from a few, there is a clear lack of consensus on legislative and regulatory proposals” related to market issues.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, testified that Vilsack “knows that cattle producers are struggling” and “is taking steps to expand the meat processing industry with grants and loans to address bottlenecks in the food supply chain.”
Grassley also appealed to the committee to “join with me and other senators on the Senate Agriculture Committee to include real reform in Mandatory Price Reporting.”
The hearing lasted five hours with industry witnesses testifying on the state of the industry and answering questions.
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