Smithfield Foods is urging action from local, state and federal government agencies when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the face of an unprecedented challenge, we have acted,” wrote CEO Kenneth M. Sullivan and COO Dennis Organ in a letter distributed to government officials. “Now, government leaders of good faith need to do the same.”

In the letter, Sullivan and Organ implored action on two items:

  • Prioritizing COVID-19 vaccine distribution to food and agriculture workers, alongside healthcare workers and first responders.
  • Establishing a bipartisan, inter-agency commission for the continuity of America’s food supply.

For vaccinations, the letter describes agriculture workers as the “backbone of America,” and argues that “There can be no defense against COVID-19 without food.”

“We must,” Sullivan and Organ write, “protect these workers and our food supply as a matter of highest national priority.”

Regarding an inter-agency commission, the letter recommends a coalition of officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the USDA, the CDC, OSHA, the White House, state government and industry participants. Once assembled, the bipartisan commission will both “examine potential threats to our nation’s food supply” and “stop the politicization of food.” Sullivan and Organ urge the commission’s creation “quickly,” so that it preempts a potential resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

“A broad bipartisan coalition must unite to support the critical food and agriculture sector,” Sullivan and Organ conclude. “It is disappointing those alliances have not widely materialized. To date, we have largely undertaken these efforts alone. But it is not too late. The pandemic is not over.”