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OPINION  Following the virtual G-20 Agriculture and Water Ministers Meeting hosted Sept. 12 by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, agricultural officials from five Western Hemisphere countries – Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States – issued the following statement underscoring the importance of maintaining agricultural trade flows during the COVID-19 pandemic. They emphasized their commitment to remaining reliable suppliers of food and agricultural products to the world.

“We, the Agriculture Ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States, express our deepest condolences for the tragic loss of life being endured around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. (We) convey our strong appreciation for all workers in the health, agricultural and other front-line sectors who selflessly dedicate their efforts to the benefit of others.

“As we face the effects of this crisis, reliable and resilient agricultural supply chains remain essential to guarantee the availability of safe nutritious food around the world. Our nations have taken the measures necessary to keep agricultural supply chains operational, ensuring the continued production and distribution of safe quality products while safeguarding the health and welfare of agricultural-sector workers. We are open for business and you can count on us for safe and high-quality food.

“As Western Hemisphere agricultural leaders, whose countries represent 35 percent of global exports in agricultural products, we reiterate the importance of maintaining agricultural trade flows while avoiding unjustified trade-restrictive measures in order to keep markets open and ensure global food security, especially to those most vulnerable. We underscore the guidance published by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (as well as) the World Health Organization on April 7, 2020, which states, ‘there is no evidence to date of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses being transmitted via food or food packaging,’ and we call on trading partners to allow trade to flow without undue delay or unjustified requirements.

“We will continue to work with our partners and with relevant regional and international organizations to exchange information, enhance coordination and strengthen our global response to the crisis.

“Looking at the aftermath of this pandemic, we recognize that agriculture will be an important engine for economic recovery. Innovation and technological development will be vital to guarantee that food systems develop sustainably to feed the world’s growing population. How we emerge from this crisis will be our greatest legacy for a future of global food security and nutrition.”

This opinion piece was submitted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Visit usda.gov for more information.

This article originally ran on agupdate.com.

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