As part of the nation’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, on March 16, President Trump issued an updated Coronavirus Guidance for America. This guidance states that, “If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”
This guidance is intended to support state, local, and industry partners in identifying the critical infrastructure sectors and the workers needed to maintain the essential services and functions upon which Americans depend.
Ag food workers defined as “critical” in this guidance include, but are not limited to:
- Farm workers to include those employed in animal food, feed, and ingredient production, packaging, and distribution; manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of veterinary drugs; truck delivery and transport; farm and fishery labor needed to produce our food supply domestically;
Farm workers and support service workers to include those who field crops; commodity
- inspection; fuel ethanol facilities; storage facilities; and other agricultural inputs;
- Employees engaged in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment and other infrastructure necessary to agricultural production and distribution;
- Employees and firms supporting food, feed, and beverage distribution, including warehouse; vendor-managed inventory controllers and blockchain managers;
- Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include those employed in food processing (packers, meat processing, cheese plants, milk plants, produce, etc.) facilities; livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities; pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing by-products for animal food; beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging workers;
- Workers supporting the sanitation of all food manufacturing processes and operations from wholesale to retail;
- Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies and other retail that sells food and beverage products; and,
- Restaurant carry-out and quick serve food operations, including carry-out and delivery food employees.
Last week, NPC and 42 other agriculture organizations sent a letter to President Trump urging the “Administration to be mindful of the food, feed, and agricultural supply chain and workforce impacts on the ability of U.S. agriculture to meet the needs of consumers” as it creates rules to restrict the flow of transportation throughout the country. The group listed supply chain necessities including “seed, fertilizer, crop protection products, agricultural labor, equipment, feed and ingredients for food-producing animals, modes of transportation, the availability of required U.S. government inspection services, and daily movement of milk.”