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.
While the coronavirus has been devastating to all of agriculture and the U.S. economy, it’s brought particular damage to dairy, an around-the-clock, 365-days-a-year perishable commodity that depends on a steady supply chain to thrive. The collapse of foodservice business has overwhelmed the increased support dairy farmers have received from consumers in grocery stores, creating a financial crisis for many dairies.
The federal government has forcefully responded to dairy’s coronavirus crisis, offering payments to producers and purchases of dairy products, along with replenished loan programs that will assist dairy businesses. More will undoubtedly need to be done, however, as the crisis deepens in coming months and additional difficulties arise.
Read about the work NMPF and others within dairy are doing to help milk producers in need during this unprecedented crisis and click below to make your voice heard in support of dairy.
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) on April 17. CFAP will use funding and authorities provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and other USDA existing authorities. This $19 billion immediate relief program includes direct support to agricultural producers as well as the Food Box Distribution Program.
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)
Dairy farmers can apply for assistance beginning on Tuesday, May 26. Call and set up an appointment with your local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to determine your eligibility and to apply for this assistance.
Dairy farmers are eligible for funding for U.S. Small Business Administration loans through the Paycheck Protection Program and COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Funds are being distributed by the SBA on a first-come, first-served basis.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
The SBA resumed accepting PPP loan applications from approved lenders on behalf of any eligible borrower on April 27.
COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program
The SBA began accepting Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications from agricultural businesses on May 4.
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.
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.
Workforce Coronavirus Prevention and Management
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:
Milk Reduction and Disposal
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 and May 13 extension waived the hours of service rules for truck drivers transporting emergency supplies of food. 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.
In the News: