Feed Bites

Coronavirus Is Here. Time to Flatten the Curve.

Written by: Leah Wilkinson & Sarah Novak   |   March 23, 2020

Coronavirus, Worker safety, Ensuring a stable food supply

A lot has changed since our last blog on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 6. In fact, it seems information is changing hourly. Companies and individuals are now trying to figure out how they can “flatten the curve” instead of wondering if the deadly virus will really spread across the U.S.

The staff at the American Feed Industry Association have been talking with many of our members, asking them how they are preparing for COVID-19, and has pulled together several websites and sample policies and procedures that companies can use today. What we’ve found is that companies across the animal food industry have come up with very creative solutions to the challenges they are facing today. For example, animal food manufacturers are doing their part to protect the health of their employees by implementing flexible work arrangements for those who can perform their job functions remotely and are restructuring work shifts and procedures to help employees maintain safe distances. They are protecting their customers by moving face-to-face meetings to virtual meetings and most importantly, they are continuing to make food for our livestock, poultry and pets.

As the animal food industry’s voice in Washington, D.C., AFIA has been extremely active communicating with federal officials, both in the administration and on the Hill, as well as state governors, lieutenant governors and state departments of agriculture, on the importance that our industry has in sustaining the food supply. Not only do animal feed, pet food and ingredient manufacturers play a role, but so do others throughout the value chain, from packaging products to transporting ingredients and finished products to customers to retail of both feed and pet food. These ag and non-ag industries should be deemed “essential” in any state shutdown policies.  

Last week, we received guidance from the Department of Homeland Security regarding what businesses are deemed critical infrastructure during these state-mandated closures. In the food and agriculture sector, DHS specifically listed some groups of individuals within our industry as “critical,” allowing them to report to work. Some of these groups include:

  • Pet and animal feed processing facilities;
  • Human food facilities producing by-products for animal food;
  • Farm workers employed in animal food, feed and ingredient production, packaging and distribution; employees and firms supporting food, feed and beverage distribution, including warehouse workers;
  • Employees of companies engaged in the production of chemicals, medicines, vaccines and other substances used by the food and agriculture industry; and
  • Animal agriculture workers, to include those employed in feed ingredients, feed and bedding.

While this is good news for our industry, we realize the impact the deadly virus and temporary shutdowns will have on other segments of the U.S. economy. We greatly appreciate all the public health and medical personnel out there battling this virus to keep us safe. We know our AFIA members are working hard each day throughout this crisis to feed the livestock, poultry and pets in our country. Thank you for doing your part to keep our country running and fed during these uncertain times!

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