Countdown: one day until Halloween and four days until the election. Not to get your hopes up that we might know exactly who will be elected on Nov. 3rd or 4th, but at least we can all rejoice that the political ads will stop and your mailbox will be a little less full of flyers in four days.
News broke early Friday morning in Washington that President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for COVID-19. With 32 days until the November election, this latest development will make the next month of campaigning even more interesting to watch. Also this week, Trump signed a bill to keep the government funded through Dec. 11, but federal funding and aid for coronavirus relief still hangs in the balance.
The House and Senate have returned from their shortened summer recess to try to accomplish some unfinished business. First up is funding the government into the new fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1, and debate on the next coronavirus aid package. With the political nature of everything in our country right now, finding compromise on Capitol Hill is not likely to come easily.
The economic impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic are being felt deep and wide across all swaths of the U.S. economy, but as a silver lining, a new report out this week finds that the food and agriculture industry is contracting at a much lower rate than other critical sectors.
A few weeks of rest, repair and prepare...that is what is currently happening in the nation's capital. Normally these weeks occur in August, but the inability to agree on the next coronavirus relief package kept Congress around for much longer with no actions taken. Now, as the few weeks of recess have finally started, everyone is resting up, trying to repair images and positions and preparing for a heavy workload with only 26 days till the end of the fiscal year and 60 days until the election. This time is also traditionally used for issuing reports or the Administration rolling out regulatory changes. We'll highlight a few of these actions.
In a time when Americans are already on guard to protect their families' health and safety against the coronavirus, now, they have one more thing to worry about. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently shared that a "malicious cyber actor" is sending phishing emails to those looking for COVID-19 loan relief from the Small Business Administration, with the goal of trying to obtain confidential information.
This week, the Food and Drug Administration and Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a checklist for FDA-regulated human and animal food operations to use when assessing operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The checklist provides helpful suggestions, not requirements, and can be an excellent tool for facility management to ensure the appropriate policies are in place.
In mid-July, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee wrapped up its year-long process of data review and public engagement and posted its final report on the U.S Department of Agriculture's website. The purpose of the report is to provide an objective review of the latest available science on specific nutrition topics. The USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services will now take the report to co-develop the 2020-25 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, providing recommendations on what to eat and drink to promote health and prevent chronic disease.
Capitol Hill remains in limbo this week with the Senate staying in town to address its fumbled negotiations over coronavirus relief funding, while the House left town last Friday for its long-planned August recess. Throughout the city, all eyes are on Senate leaders as they negotiate amongst themselves and with the White House on the contents of the relief package, foiling the campaign plans of senators and the summer vacation plans of those who work alongside Congress.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration announced that routine inspections of animal food facilities will resume after July 20, where safely possible. In March, the FDA paused nonessential inspections due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has only been conducting inspections where food safety issues were a concern.
Members of Congress returned to Washington this week for a two-week sprint to the legislative finish line before the August recess begins at the end of July. With a mountain of time-sensitive legislation to deal with ahead of the Sept. 30 fiscal year end deadline and increased political pressure to strike a deal on a fourth round of funding in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Capitol is in high gear.
Despite appeals from a broad swath of food activists and professional groups to delay the next step in the process, the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) last week moved forward with reviewing its draft advisory report. Of particular interest, the influence of animal-based products and eating patterns on adult health generated an animated discussion among committee members.
International trade is in the spotlight this week in regard to the coronavirus with several news reports circulating of a Chinese governmental agency asking U.S. and European-based suppliers of meat, poultry and fruit to sign declarations ensuring the safety of their exported products to China. It is unclear how many of these facilities have signed such a statement, certifying their products are free of COVID-19.
In a move that brings the 2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines one step closer to reality, the American Feed Industry Association joined other public stakeholders in voicing its stance on the process agency staff used for reviewing the current body of scientific nutrition research and commended the advisory committee for including nutritional information for certain demographics.
Last week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) declared that the COVID-19 public health emergency continues to warrant an extension of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002. This declaration provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations that are providing direct assistance in support of COVID-19 emergency relief efforts, including transportation to meet the immediate needs for several high-demand products, such as food, paper products and other groceries, for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
The Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture released recommendations to help address shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), cloth face coverings, disinfectants and sanitation supplies in the food and agriculture industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As COVID-19 continues to spread, nothing is more important than protecting the health and safety of your employees, visitors or customers. Clarion Safety Systems offers a full portfolio of visual safety products to support your social distancing policies, remind of hygiene protocols and reinforce PPE requirements.
On Wednesday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a revised enforcement guidance for recording cases of COVID-19 in the workplace. The guidance reinforces that COVID-19 cases are recordable illnesses under OSHA record keeping requirements if the case is confirmed as a coronavirus illness; work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and involves one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.
At its recent meeting, the American Feed Industry Association's Board of Directors discussed many topics, but Scott Druker of Church & Dwight Company, the new Board chair for 2020-21, said that at the forefront was the industry's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
American Feed Industry Association President and CEO Constance Cullman delivered a short video message today to members detailing how the association is addressing industry challenges in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic. She asks that members continue sharing their concerns with the staff so that our essential industry can make it through the public health crisis together.
Tim Belstra of Belstra Milling, the American Feed Industry Association's 2019-20 Board chair, delivered a short video message today to members detailing how the animal food industry is supporting local communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In it, he talks about how the industry is supporting the healthcare community ? "the real heroes" ? to feeding Americans to supporting pet owners, some of whom have recently lost their jobs.
This weekend, the American Feed Industry Association joined partner organizations in
asking congressional leaders to provide liability protection to essential infrastructure
employers during this critical time. As essential work carries on at the direction of
executive orders and Defense Production Act directives, and in an effort to stabilize the
food supply chain, employers across the nation are facing increased risks of litigation
and punitive claims by employees exposed to COVID-19 ? a risk that only grows as
state economies begin to reopen.
Over the past several weeks, the American Feed Industry Association has joined other
groups in communicating industry concerns to the Environmental Protection Agency
concerning the 2018 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) fees rule, announced in
During the COVID-19 pandemic, most activities undertaken by American Feed Industry
Association members have been deemed essential -- meaning feed and pet food
manufacturing operations have continued, while much of the economy has experienced
Focus in Washington this week remains on coronavirus response as contention mounts over how best to move forward. While states continue planning how and when to reopen businesses, the House and Senate grapple with the price tag of keeping the national economy on life support, and the White House continues with trying to reshape the narrative around economic stability and public health.
Late last week, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released
Version 3.0 of its Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers list. Version 3.0 provides
clarity around a range of positions needed to support the critical infrastructure functions
laid out in the original guidance and Version 2.0.
Today, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Supply Chain Stabilization Task
Force released a list of distributors that have, or will soon have, significant quantities of
personal protection equipment (PPE) available, including non-medical-grade facemasks
(including cloth masks) and N95 respirators. The distributors listed are prepared to
receive requests from entities within the food and agriculture sector that have an
immediate need for PPE, which cannot be supplied through existing distributors
Following positive movement last week resulting in the replenishment of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Capitol Hill has come to a near standstill this week, while the nation grapples with how best to restart the economy.
As you may have seen in the news and livestock/poultry market reports, many of the
nation's slaughter facilities have either closed or reduced slaughter capacity due to
employees testing positive for COVID-19. As a result, certain situations may require
depopulation of livestock and poultry. The American Feed Industry Association is
tracking this issue very closely as it may impact the animal food industry in terms of the
availability of rendered ingredients and demand for animal feed.
On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration issued guidance for meat and poultry processing
workers and employers. While the guidance is focused on how meat and poultry
processing plants can establish or improve their COVID-19 response plans to continue
operations, there are lessons that can be applied to other manufacturing systems, like
animal feed, ingredients and pet food as well.
The Paycheck Protection Program, authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and
Economic Security Act (CARES Act), prioritizes millions of Americans employed by
small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other
expenses. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, agricultural producers,
veterans organizations and tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as
well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible
for assistance if they also meet program size standards.
The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued
new enforcement guidance on the use of respiratory protection equipment certified
under international standards or other jurisdictions during the coronavirus disease
pandemic. OSHA's memorandum provides additional interim guidance to compliance
safety and health officers for enforcing the Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR §
1910.134) and certain other health standards, with regard to supply shortages of
disposable N95 filtering face-piece respirators (FFRs).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Cybersecurity and
Infrastructure Security Agency have updated guidance regarding the continued health,
safety and protection of the "essential" critical infrastructure workforce who may have
been exposed to COVID-19. These two important informational products include an
interim guidance for businesses implementing safety practices for workers who may
have been exposed to COVID-19 and a quick reference of the "Do's and Don'ts" for
employers and employees related to COVID-19 exposures.
Last Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an enforcement
guidance with details on how employers should record occupational illnesses,
specifically cases of the COVID-19. In areas where there is ongoing community
transmission, employers ? other than those in the healthcare industry, emergency
response organizations and correctional institutions ? may have difficulty determining
whether workers contracted COVID-19 due to exposures at work. In light of those
difficulties, OSHA is exercising enforcement discretion in order to provide certainty to
the regulated community.
Last week, the American Feed Industry Association held a webcast member update with the legislative and regulatory (L&R) team. It covered a number of topics, including African swine fever preparedness and response, learnings from recent Food Safety Modernization Act inspections, an update on trade topics and AFIA's response to the new coronavirus and the implications of the virus on our industry.
Last week, the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released guidance to state and local decision-makers on what it deems to be the "Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce." Under this guidance, the agency lists 16 industry sectors as imperative to the stability of the nation during the COVID-19 emergency, of which food and agriculture is one of these essential sectors. The guidance document further defines critical food and agriculture workers.
The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced additional
guidance to provide information to workers and employers about how each will be able
to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus
Response Act (FFCRA), which takes effect on April 1.
Many feed manufacturing facilities may suddenly find it difficult to obtain N95 respirators
due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. N95 disposable respirators
are commonly used in our industry to protect the health of employees handling
hazardous materials. As the country is facing a temporary shortage of supply, the
American Feed Industry Association is providing reminders on using respirators at your
facility and also suggestions on other alternatives that exist that may fulfill your business
Over the last several weeks, American Feed Industry Association staff have been in close communication with the Department of Homeland Security, other federal agencies and state feed and grain associations in order to ensure a clear flow of communication throughout the COVID-19 crisis. As the nation and world change practices in response to the novel coronavirus, AFIA staff have addressed the systems needed to support business continuity and an uninterrupted flow of ingredients and finished products to feed all classes of animals.
The COVID-19 situation has created a "new normal" for all of us as we, led by our government leaders, work to contain the transmission of this terrible virus. Its impact on individual health is severe and remains our utmost concern. Along with the efforts to protect public health, our industry is also working hard to ensure that the food supply remains uninterrupted. Deemed essential by virtually every state because of aggressive action by your AFIA team and other industry partners, the animal food sector is on the front-lines and successfully navigating limited labor, interrupted supply lines and distribution challenges. This is a remarkable industry!
The American Feed Industry Association is tracking updates on the new coronavirus (COVID19) and its effects on the animal food industry. See a few important updates below and be sure to bookmark our new member-only webpage for the latest news and resources.
Today, the Food and Drug Administration posted guidance for industry entitled, "Temporary
Policy Regarding Preventive Controls and FSVP Food Supplier Verification Onsite Audit
Requirements During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency." This policy provides
enforcement discretion for requirements in the Food Safety Modernization Act regulations that require on-site audits to verify suppliers, in light of the recent actions to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The American Feed Industry Association, along with 23 state and regional feed and grain
associations, called on state officials around the country today to maintain access to businesses providing animal food amid proposed state plans to close "non-essential businesses" to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Today, the Port of Houston closed two container terminals, Barbours Cut and Bayport, when an employee that worked at both sites tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The Port Authority closed the public terminals and temporarily suspended operations while they conducted a thorough investigation. The Port Authority's other public facilities remained open. According to the Port Authority, the two container terminals will reopen on March 20. A
The American Feed Industry Association, along with 23 state and regional feed and grain associations, called on state officials around the country today to maintain access to businesses providing animal food amid proposed state plans to close "non-essential businesses" to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The plea comes after some states released response plans that excluded animal food manufacturing facilities, transportation and agricultural and non-agricultural retail establishments from their lists of "essential businesses." In an urgent letter, the groups stated that these businesses should be reclassified because not doing so would hinder the animal food industry's ability to continue feeding America's livestock, poultry and pets, threaten the U.S. food supply and drive up prices for farmers, ranchers, pet owners and consumers.
In the past two weeks, a relatively productive and on-time legislative session and appropriations process came to an abrupt halt and even the presidential race lost attention as the World Health Organization announced that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) had reached pandemic levels, leading President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency.
The American Feed Industry Association is tracking updates on the new coronavirus (COVID-19) and its effects on the animal food industry. See a few important updates below and be sure to bookmark our new member-only webpage for the latest news and resources.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2017 changed the Tier II reporting requirements and format under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA, Sections 311 and 312). Below are frequently asked questions on how these requirements, including changes on combustible dust reporting, may impact your facilities.
The Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently sought comments on a newly published proposed rulemaking on changes to its hours-of-service rules. The goal of the proposed rulemaking is to increase the safety on roadways by giving commercial drivers more flexibility in managing their schedules while maintaining the safety limits on driving time.
In September, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule to make 1.3 million American workers newly eligible for overtime pay. The final rule updates the earnings thresholds necessary in order to exempt executive, administrative and professional employees from the Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. The new thresholds account for growth in employee earnings since the thresholds were last updated in 2004. The rule will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
Recognizing that animal feed is a critical component in measuring the total environmental footprint of animal nutrition products, an international consortium came together in 2016 to establish a "global gold standard" for calculating the life-cycle analysis (LCA) of feed ingredients. Now, the founding partners of the Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI) are establishing a legal non-profit institute, under the same name, to expand its work and make the data more widely available to stakeholders throughout the global food value chain.
This week, the American Feed Industry Association responded to the U.S. Occupational, Safety and Health Administration's request for information related to requirements in the standards on powered industrial trucks for general, maritime and construction industries.
Earlier this month, the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) launched an online toolkit to provide guidance to the animal food industry on implementing the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.
The American Feed Industry Association signed onto a letter to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) last month outlining why additional regulations on grain handling or the processing industry to mitigate combustible dust hazards are unnecessary.
On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers announced their new "waters of the U.S." proposal at an event that attracted dozens of farmers and industry leaders who have long-sought straightforward definitions that allow farmers to more clearly decide how to operate on their lands.
Democratic leaders of three House committees announced plans for two days of hearings early next year on the issue of climate change. With Democrats taking control of the House, they have vowed to renew their focus on the issue, even though Senate Republicans can block any resulting legislation.
On Oct. 18, the American Feed Industry Association's Board of Directors met in Arizona to discuss and review the association's business items and latest legislative and regulatory work. They also recognized Richard Sellers, AFIA's senior vice president of public policy and education, who will be retiring Dec. 31.
Last week, President Donald Trump signed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018 into law, reauthorizing investments in infrastructure improvements along inland American waterways. The law, which passed Congress with bipartisan support, was seen as a much-needed investment in U.S. infrastructure as it makes it easier to ship agricultural and other goods to U.S. ports and harbors.
Next week is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Safe + Sound Week, intended to raise awareness and understanding of safety and health programs. The American Feed Industry Association will be promoting safety in the feed industry on social media throughout the week. Be sure to follow along on AFIA's Facebook and Twitter and use the hashtag #SafeAndSound2018.
More than 35 state and national ag leaders convened last Friday at the North Carolina State Fair to "discuss the threat that nuisance lawsuits pose to the U.S. agriculture industry, rural America, and farm families nationwide." Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C., Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler hosted the roundtable to discuss the issue and solutions to these types of lawsuits.
On May 31, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released regulatory guidance that clarifies when the agricultural commodity exception is applicable in the hours of service (HOS) regulations in 49 CFR Part 395.
If you are a manufacturing facility with shippers that drop-off, pick-up or transport products within the state of New Jersey, you may want to pay attention to this alert. The New Jersey Division of Taxation is cracking down on truckers that transport goods in the Garden State that are not registered to pay the state's corporate business tax.
The American Feed Industry Association has partnered with the the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on the national Safe + Sound Campaign, which encourages workplaces in the United States to have a safety and health program as a way to identify and manage workplace hazards before they cause injury or illness.
Grain engulfment and the resulting suffocation is one of the leading causes of death in grain bins. In an effort to bring awareness to this issue and help prevent engulfment incidents, the American Feed Industry Association is a co-sponsor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Grain and Feed Association's "Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Week," being held April 9-13.
The American Feed Industry Association hosted several spring committee meetings in conjunction with its Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference last week in Fort Worth, Texas. Two of the committees that met--the Equipment Manufacturers Committee (EMC) and the Production Compliance Committee (PCC)--often work together, so they took advantage of being in the same place at the same time to tour the recently opened Hayes & Stolz Industrial Manufacturing Co., LLC facility in Burleson, Texas.