Mar 26, 2020A fact sheet for growers navigating coronavirus
This is a very difficult time for many people. Farmers and those involved in other aspects of agriculture and food production are experiencing significant challenges. This fact sheet has information that may help those involved with agriculture navigate some of these.
Food and agriculture is designated as critical infrastructure
Food and Agriculture is designated as Critical Infrastructure by the United States Department of Homeland Security (USDHS). According to USDHS: Critical infrastructure describes the physical and cyber systems and assets that are so vital to the United States that their incapacity or destruction would have a debilitating impact on our physical or economic security or public health or safety. The nation’s critical infrastructure provides the essential services that underpin American society. USDHS, https://www.dhs.gov/topic/critical-infrastructure-security.
As part of a Critical Infrastructure sector farmers, businesses, transportation and other services supporting agriculture are not just allowed but expected to maintain operations through an emergency or disaster. While it is unrealistic to expect no impacts from novel coronavirus, people need to eat. Food production and distribution should continue.
Social distancing and agriculture
Most farming operations do not involve large numbers of people engaged in face-to-face interactions. Even those interactions that take place may often be mitigated. Some strategies that may be helpful include:
• Farmer should observe all CDC recommendations regarding handwashing, sanitation of surfaces, reducing travel, etc.
• Arrange for pickups and deliveries to be made without direct contact between individuals. Use of pre-pays, account billing, etc. should be explored to help with this.
• Conduct meetings by phone or videoconference where possible.
• While this may not be practical in many operations, consider where employees may work remotely from home.
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• Consider how you may reduce the number of people at a single location at one time on the farm.
• Communication is key. Be sure to discuss matters thoroughly with employees and maintain contact with those involved in your farm’s supply chain such as seed and fertilizer dealers.
Recommendation for those traveling on food and agriculture business
It is recommended that agricultural workers have with them some form of documentation indicating they work in agriculture in case they are questioned by law enforcement and other authorities. Here are two sample templates producers may use or they may develop their own.
• For employees traveling on agricultural business: https://images.magnetmail.net/images/clients/PMA_/attach/EmployeeTravelRelatedtoCriticalInfrastructure_ENGLISH.pdf
• For transportation and shipping: https://images.magnetmail.net/images/clients/PMA_/attach/Shipment_of_Supplies_Related_to_Critical_Infrastructure_ENG.pdf
Here are some links which may be useful.
Indiana Governor Holcomb’s Executive Order 20-08, “Directive for Hoosiers to Stay at Home.” https://www.in.gov/gov/files/Executive_Order_20-08_Stay_at_Home.pdf
USDHS – CISA Guidance on Workers in Critical Infrastructure Positions: https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/CISA-Guidance-on-Essential-Critical-Infrastructure-Workers-1-20-508c.pdf This document lists specific workers considered part of Critical Infrastructure by USDHS. It is important to note that while the federal document does not list horticulture, we have been informed that within Indiana, landscape and lawn care services are viewed as essential businesses under Governor Holcomb’s Executive Order.
CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) instructions for employers regarding how to prepare for COVID-19: file:///U:/Emergency%20Planning/COVID%2019/OSHA3990.pdf
Bob Nielsen has put together a COVID-19 page in his Chat-n’-Chew Café: https://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/cafe/covid19.html
Information about USDA Farm Service Centers: https://www.farmers.gov/coronavirus
Video Message from US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOGuTRViNCw&feature=youtu.be
– Purdue University