As cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to be found in the United States, food-industry professionals are monitoring public health and responding to market effects. The spread of the virus has raised concerns about how it may affect public health as well as our economy, including dairy production. This page offers general resources about coronavirus as well as NMPF resources focused on dairy’s response to the pandemic.
All producers will remain vigilant as coronavirus continues its path. NMPF will continue to answer questions and offer information to help our members. Policy solutions also will be needed. In keeping with our mission of serving our members, regardless of the challenge, we will work with lawmakers and regulators to ensure a safe and adequate supply of milk and to mitigate economic harm to dairy farmers.
Functioning critical infrastructure is imperative during the response to the COVID-19 emergency for public health and safety as well as community well-being. Agriculture, including the dairy supply chain, was identified as essential critical infrastructure by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on March 19; as such, employees have a special responsibility in these times to continue operations. The full list of industries and DHS guidance can be accessed here. A Spanish-language version is available here.
NMPF has crafted a template work permit for food and agriculture employees that explains the DHS guidance and asks relevant authorities to grant employees permission to travel to and from work. Along with the permit itself, the document also defines who is considered a food and agriculture employee for critical-infrastructure purposes. This document can be downloaded below.
Pasteurized milk and dairy products are safe.
There is no evidence to suggest that food produced in the United States can transmit COVID-19. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that heat treatment kills other coronaviruses, making pasteurization an effective safeguard against this virus.
There is no evidence that this strain of coronavirus is present in domestic livestock such as cattle. The virus is spread through aerosol transmission and close human contact, not through food products.
For more information, visit the Food and Drug Administration’s FAQ page.
Dairy farms are 24-hour, 7-day per week businesses, and operations must continue. Following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) precautions will minimize the risk to dairy farmers, family, employees and essential professional and service providers to be on the farm.
The CDC provides clear guidance about preventing infection in both English and Spanish. It also provides a number of printable factsheets and posters in English and Spanish suitable for use in the workplace.
Below are resources that dairy farmers are encouraged to review and use as appropriate:
Workforce Prevention and Management
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to plan, prepare and respond to COVID-19 and will update this guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available. The guidance may help prevent workplace exposures to COVID-19 and provides planning considerations if there are more widespread, community outbreaks of COVID-19.
All employers should be ready to implement strategies to protect workers from COVID-19 while ensuring continuity of operations. During a COVID-19 outbreak, all sick employees should stay home and away from the workplace, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene should be encouraged, and routine cleaning of commonly touched surfaces should be performed regularly.
President Trump’s March 13 emergency declaration waived the hours of service rules for truck drivers transporting emergency supplies of food. The waiver grants relief to drivers, including those moving farm commodities, until midnight April 12 or when President Trump terminates it, if sooner. Should processing facilities experience an exacerbated driver shortage or plant closures that cause milk to be diverted in the coming weeks, such flexibility allows for milk to move in a timely manner.
The American Trucking Associations has developed a COVID-19 webpage with relevant alerts, facts, and answers to frequently asked questions for industry stakeholders to use as a resource during this pandemic. The page is updated regularly with new information, and is a great source for issues regarding truck stop closings, state and federal declarations, Congressional actions and other developments that may be impacting truck drivers during this time. Additional hauling resources are listed below.
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