Agriculture and food workers and their industries have been recognized as essential by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
This recognition, outlined in a memorandum issued by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), encourages authorities at all levels to support continued operation amid ongoing restrictions in the wake of COVID-19.
Keeping America running
Specific workers from these sectors noted in the guidance include:
- 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
- Farm workers 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 and firms supporting food, feed, and beverage distribution, including warehouse workers, vendor-managed inventory controllers and blockchain managers
- Workers supporting sanitation of all food manufacturing processes and operations from wholesale to retail
- Employees of companies engaged in production of chemicals, medicines, vaccines, and other substances used by the food and agriculture industry, including pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, minerals, enrichments, and other agricultural production aids
- Animal agriculture workers to include those employed in veterinary health; manufacturing and distribution of animal medical materials, animal vaccines, animal drugs, feed ingredients, feed, and bedding, etc.; transportation of live animals, animal medical materials; transportation of deceased animals for disposal; raising of animals for food; animal production operations; slaughter and packing plants and associated regulatory and government workforce.
Ensuring supply chain remains solid
This recognition from the department has drawn a number of positive responses from key indusry organizations.
"We thank DHS for acknowledging the vital role that pork producers play in helping to feed consumers here at home and around the globe with a high-quality, affordable protein," says National Pork Producers president Howard "A.V." Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wis. "We recognize that states and local governments are working hard to ensure operational continuity. As part of that effort, we urge state and local governments to swiftly follow and implement this federal directive. We need to ensure there is a continuous and uninterrupted supply of pork to America's kitchen tables."
“These are uncertain times for all Americans, but the good news is that the U.S. food supply is among the safest in the world, and many companies are increasing the levels of sanitation and food safety testing beyond what is required by law or any regulatory guidelines during this pandemic," says John Bode, president and chief executive officer of the Corn Refiners Association. "But we also need to ensure that our government, at all levels, is continuing to work hand in hand with the industry and providing clear guidance to ensure that our supply chain remains solid and food is being moved to consumers as quickly and safely as possible."