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Iowa Ag Secretary says pandemic shined light on agriculture

MASON CITY — This week is National Agriculture Week and  Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says the pandemic shined a light on the important job ag producers have.

“I am hopeful that maybe that’s one of those silver linings that come out of what we’ve experienced the last 12 months. Is that there is an appreciation for the fact that food just doesn’t magically appear on the grocery store shelf,” according to Naig.

He says we realize that agriculture touches us all.  “We had restaurants shut down and people stopped traveling.  All the meetings that we would go to and conferences where you would have food served breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Really that whole foodservice supply chain just shut down,” Naig says. 

The impact has also became evident in grocery stores. “We had some situations where some of the food products we normally expect to find — and I think often times take for granted —  weren’t available or weren’t available as readily as much as we normally would purchase,” Naig says. 

There were also shutdowns at meat processing plants brought on by the pandemic.  Naig says food security remains a concern for many families who have had to visit their local food pantries and food banks for the first time during the pandemic. 

He says, fortunately, many Iowans, including farm and commodity organizations, food companies, and others stepped up to donate much-needed food supplies. “That’s been one of the things I have been very proud of as I watched the agriculture community respond. And even though there’ve been challenging times and uncertain markets — they’ve stepped up to help their neighbors in need,” he says. 

Naig says we all need to continue to tell the story of agriculture.

Naig was one of the keynote speakers at the Mason City Chamber of Commerce Ag Breakfast on Tuesday.

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