JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson discussed the steps being taken to strengthen Mississippi’s food supply chain.
“The country’s food supply chain continues to function in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, labor issues in other states, coupled with shifting demands as restaurants and schools have closed, have strained the supply chain,” said Commissioner Gipson. “In Mississippi, our food supply is abundant, plentiful and safe, thanks to our hardworking farmers. It is imperative that we take steps that will provide new market opportunities for our farmers, while simultaneously providing consumers with avenues to purchase direct from farmers. These steps are all part of keeping our food supply diverse and secure.”
Gipson says the problem is not with food becoming scarce, but oversupply because of people overbuying or hoarding. He says no processing plants in Mississippi have closed because of the virus.
Gipson is signing an emergency rule to expand the custom slaughter exemption and increase the number of shares sold per animal.
He says this allows smaller, custom plants to sell directly to a consumer. Any Mississippian will be able to purchase beef, poultry or pork directly from a local farmer. This rule will last 120 days.
“They can buy a share in that animal, whatever the farmer wants to sell or divide it up. They will then be able to pick up their share as it’s processed at a local custom processing plant," Gipson said.
He also announced the launch of the Mississippi Farm Marketplace, an online marketing tool to connect farmers and consumers. Farmers can list products they have for sale and customers can find their listing and connect to purchase and pick up those items. Click here to access that portal.
At Remington Lott farms store in Ridgeland, red meat is flying out the door faster than they can stock it.
Their farm direct-to-consumer method is something state leaders believe will strengthen the current food supply chain slowdowns.
The Mississippi Department of Agriculture also announced they’re offering grants and emergency funding for meat processors in the state to expand, to meet the increased demand right now from consumers.
You can watch Gipson’s full press conference below: