Archives - IDFA Member Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
This an archive of IDFA Member Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19). The full resource page can be found at www.idfa.org/coronavirus.
April 22, 2021
President Joe Biden has announced a paid-leave tax credit for small businesses – including dairy farmers, cooperatives and processors – who provide full pay for employees who take time off to get and recover from a COVID-19 vaccination. The tax credit, part of the administration’s efforts to encourage more widespread vaccinations, is available to organizations with fewer than 500 employees. It covers up to $511 per day for each vaccinated employee and is funded by the American Rescue Plan. IDFA welcomes this tax initiative as an appropriate way to safeguard the health of U.S. workers while ensuring our small businesses, especially those involved in the dairy industry aren’t penalized for enabling their employees to participate in the national vaccine program.
The Internal Revenue Service has released a fact sheet to inform employers about how to claim the paid-sick-leave credit on their quarterly tax filings. Nearly half of all private-sector employers in the U.S., and nearly two-thirds of companies in the dairy industry, are eligible for the tax credit. Employers also can review more details about the tax credit in a new guidance documentpublished by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The tax credit will offset the cost for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees for up to 80 hours (10 work days) up to $511 per day of paid sick leave offered between April 1 and September 30, 2021. This tax credit will allow these employers to provide paid leave for employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination and for any time their employees may need to recover from that vaccination at no cost to the employer. We encourage IDFA members to take part in this new program to help protect your employees and to hasten our nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
April 6th, 2021
CDC recently updated its guidance on how to correctly wear a mask to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19. In a workplace, CDC recommends all employees wear masks in accordance with CDC and OSHA guidance as well as any state or local requirements. This applies if the hazard assessment has determined that they do not require PPE, such as a respirator or medical facemask for protection.
CDC also recently updated the following resources:
OSHA Issues Workplace Coronavirus Guidance: As required by a January 21, 2021 Executive Order, OSHA issued new guidance for employers in non-health care settings on how to implement a coronavirus protection program and better identify risks which could lead to the spread of the virus in the workplace.
The COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Operational Guidance for Jurisdictions Playbook: The interim playbook applies to state, territorial (including the US-affiliated Pacific Islands [USAPI] of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau), tribal, and local public health programs and their partners on how to plan and operationalize a vaccination response to COVID-19 within their jurisdictions. See a list of state plans for vaccinations: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/covid19-vaccination-guidance.html
IDFA Advisory to Members on COVID Vaccine Allocations and Identification of Employees for Priority Vaccination: This document is meant to be advisory in nature, based on the latest information available to IDFA. On Dec. 1, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to approve a draft recommendation on who should receive top priority for COVID-19 vaccines in the United States if, as anticipated, vaccines initially become available in limited supply. With COVID-19 vaccines on the cusp of the first round of national distribution, IDFA members are strongly encouraged to start reaching out now to local (city and county) public health agencies to offer your partnership on distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine to your essential workforce. Review the advisory here.
December 3, 2020
CDC Guidelines for Reduced Quarantine Time: CDC now recommends two additional options for how long quarantine should last. Based on local availability of viral testing, for people without symptoms, quarantine can end: on day 10 without testing; on day 7 after receiving a negative test result. After stopping quarantine, people should watch for symptoms until 14 days after exposure. Learn more here.
IDFA and Industry Partners Urge Congress to Pass New PPP Relief: In a recent sign-on letter, IDFA and coalition partners urge Congressional leaders to expeditiously enact legislation which would allow businesses to access a second Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan with tax deductibility and streamlined forgiveness. Read the letter.
IDFA and Food/Ag/Retail Groups Offer Partnership to Incoming Biden Administration: "A strong, coordinated response at the federal level is absolutely critical to our industry’s ability to meet this moment. Your Administration’s partnership is essential. Read the letter here.
November 17, 2020
IDFA and Other Groups Press SBA to Discontinue PPP Loan Review Questionnaire: Eighty groups including IDFA sent a letter to the SBA and the Treasury Department urging the federal government to discontinue a 9-page questionnaire to obtain information from businesses that took Paycheck Protection Program loans worth $2 million or more.Review the letter here.
November 16, 2020
Self-Certification Form to Assist Essential Workers with Travel and Transportation: With states and localities beginning to impose strict public health measures to reduce transmission of COVID-19, IDFA wants to ensure critical infrastructure industry employees are able to do their job in service to the nation. IDFA suggests dairy and food companies use this form to self-certify your employees or shipments as part of the nation's critical infrastructure. Print the form on official company letterhead (your own or that of your transportation provider), print a copy, sign the document where indicated, and ask the employee or driver to keep it on-hand to provide to authorities should they stop individuals or vehicles from carrying out their duties. Download the form here.
November 11, 2020
Industry Sign-On Letter to President Trump on Vaccination Strategy: The letter encourages the Administration—once a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed and approved—to have a federally orchestrated vaccine distribution program and prioritization of vaccination among population groups, including critical infrastructure employees which include the food, agriculture, manufacturing, and retail industries.See the letter here.
September 15, 2020
Extension of Hours of Service Emergency Declaration: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) has extended their Hours of Service emergency declaration, which was set to expire on Sept. 14, but is now extended through the end of the 2020 calendar year. To review the FMCSA extension, click here.
August 21, 2020
New Scientific Literature Review Finds No Evidence of the Spread of COVID-19 Through Food Consumption or in Association with Food Packaging: The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), in partnership with North Carolina State University (NC State) researchers Drs. Lee-Ann Jaykus and Benjamin Chapman, conducted a scientific literature review to understand the nature of survival and persistence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in foods and on food contact surfaces and food packaging materials, and the potential for foodborne transmission. Their work confirms that there is no evidence for the spread of SARS-CoV-2 through consumption of food or in association with food packaging, and no known cases of foodborne COVID-19. This conclusion substantiates similar statements made by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
August 20, 2020
DHS the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Released Update to Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers Guidance: Version 4.0 provides guidance on how jurisdictions and critical infrastructure owners can use the list to assist in prioritizing the ability of essential workers to work safely while supporting ongoing infrastructure operations across the nation. The updated guidance reflects the changing landscape of the nation’s COVID-19 response. While earlier versions were primarily intended to help officials and organizations identify essential work functions in order to allow them access to their workplaces during times of community restrictions, Version 4.0 identifies those essential workers that require specialized risk management strategies to ensure that they can work safely. It can also be used to begin planning and preparing for the allocation of scarce resources used to protect essential workers against COVID-19.
August 19, 2020
OSHA and FDA Develop Checklist to Protect Food Industry Employees Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic: The checklist was developed for human and animal food manufacturers to consider when continuing, resuming or reevaluating operations due to the coronavirus pandemic. The checklist is useful for persons growing, harvesting, packing, manufacturing, processing or holding human and animal food regulated by FDA. The checklist includes the following considerations:
Ensure employee health and a safe workplace;
Investigate exposure and determine when an employee should be tested for the coronavirus; and
Configure the work environment to help minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus among workers.
August 17, 2020
USDA Amends Solicitation for Round III of Farmers to Families Food Box Program: USDA has issued a second amendment to the terms for Round III of the Farmers to Families Food Box program. This amendment form SF-30, as well as the first amendment SF-30 form (linked below) must be returned to USDA with proposal submissions. If you submitted a proposal prior to the issuing of these amendments, USDA will make arrangements with you regarding the submission of the SF-30.
August 7, 2020
USDA Updates, Expands Solicitation for Round III of Farmers to Families Food Box Program: USDA issued an Amendment to the terms for Round III of the Farmers to Families Food Box program, expanding the types of boxes as well as the types of dairy products requested for the program. USDA will make no awards under Round III until no earlier than Aug. 15. Delivery will begin Sept. 1 (Round II closes on August 30) and USDA will accept proposals on a rolling schedule with no deadline. Under Round III, USDA requires more detailed information from applicants on their capability to source and deliver the preferred food items within a specific timeframe. IDFA encourages those interested in participating to submit proposals soon to FFFBsubmissions@usda.gov. You can learn more about the updates announced today by visiting https://www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food-to-usda/farmers-to-families-food-box.
USDA Amends and Expands Dairy Products in Round III: The Amendment allows for two types of boxes moving forward:
A Combination Box including dairy: The Combination Box requires 5-6 pounds of dairy in each box from at least 2 different sets of dairy items from Column A and Column B of the Amendment, which include cheeses and other dairy; plus each Combination Box must include the equivalent of 1 gallon of milk (2% or whole).
A Dairy Box: The Dairy Box must include 8-12 pounds of at least 2 different sets of dairy items from Column A and Column B of the Amendment, which include cheeses and other dairy; plus each Dairy Box must include the equivalent of 1-2 gallons of milk (2% or whole). The total box weight including fluid milk must be between 17-21 pounds.
New Cheeses Added to Column A: The Amendment has updated the cheeses in Column A to include “Other hard, semi-firm or semisoft cheese”. USDA has provided an explanation of the cheeses in the August 7 solicitation. The categorization of example cheeses included in the tables are based on the Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, Sub-Part 133, Codex Standards and Center for Dairy Research resources. See the USDA explanation.
Source Face Masks: The American Apparel & Footwear Association recently published a new resource to help companies and organizations find cloth face coverings and face masks. The guide provides an easy, one-stop resource to help find and locate face masks – whether buying them in bulk or placing single orders. Review the resource here.
July 31, 2020
Updated Information on Round Three of Farmers to Families Food Box Program: USDA has announced plans for a third round of the Farmers to Families Food Box program under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) using the remainder of the $3 billion dedicated to purchase dairy, eggs, produce and meat products from American producers. This new round will begin Sept. 1. USDA will accept proposals from offerors on a rolling basis. USDA will require more detailed information from applicants on their capability to source and deliver the preferred food items within a specific timeframe. Going forward, the program allows for just one type of box—a combination food box inclusive of dairy products and fluid milk.
Questions regarding the program may be directed via email to FFFBquestions@usda.gov. To learn more about the program, please visit https://www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food-to-usda/farmers-to-families-food-box.
July 27, 2020
USDA Announces Round Three of Farmers to Families Food Box Program: USDA has announced plans for a third round of the Farmers to Families Food Box program under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) using the remainder of the $3 billion dedicated to purchase fresh produce, eggs, dairy and meat products from American producers. This new round will begin Sept. 1 (round two closes on August 30). USDA has made changes to the solicitation process for the third round, requiring more detailed information from applicants on their capability to source and deliver the preferred food items within a specific timeframe. Furthermore, the program allows for just one type of box moving forward—a mixed or combination food box inclusive of dairy and fluid milk.
The new solicitation is available here for review: https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/FFFB_solicitationRound3.pdf
Offerors may submit final proposals to FFFBsubmissions@usda.gov.
USDA AMS will also host a webinar to help interested parties learn more about the new requirements for submitting proposals for round three of the program. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, at 3 p.m. ET. To register visit: https://www.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_xUq2lo2yRoGUi4CskWajwA
Questions regarding the program may be directed via email to FFFBquestions@usda.gov. To learn more about the program, please visit https://www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food-to-usda/farmers-to-families-food-box.
July 22, 2020
USG Details Public COVID-19 Data and Resource Hubs: Please reference this document to learn about federal resource and data hubs for information on COVID-19. Reference Document
July 16, 2020
Community-Based Testing Sites for COVID-19: HHS has partnered with pharmacy and retail companies to accelerate testing for more Americans in more communities across the country. Click the link here for up-to-date information about each company's efforts to provide timely and accessible COVID-19 testing. You can schedule an appointment for testing on each companies' website: https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/community-based-testing-sites/index.html
July 8, 2020
OSHA Publishes Comprehensive COVID-19 Resources Guide: This document includes listings of COVID-19 resources on workplace safety and health and related topics. It is intended as a resource and includes information on reopening workplaces, industry sector-specific guidance (including food processing and agriculture), and resources by federal agency. Download the Resource Guide.
July 2, 2020
CDC, OSHA, and FDA Webinar: The Food and Beverage Issue Alliance (FBIA) is hosting a webinar on the Testing Strategy for Coronavirus (COVID-19) in High-Density Critical Infrastructure Workplaces after a COVID-19 Case Is Identified. This guidance is intended for industry and augments existing guidance. Hear from CDC, OSHA, and FDA experts for an overview of the draft guidance and a Q/A panel. The webinar is July 16 from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. EDT. Register here.
Mike Grant, ScD; Industrial Hygienist, CDC National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Megin Nichols, DVM, MPH; Diplomate ACVPM, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, National Center for Emerging, Zoonotic, and Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Jonathan Bearr, PhD; Health Scientist, Occupational Safety and Health Administration
RADM David P. Goldman, MD, MPH; Chief Medical Officer, Office of Food Policy and Response, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Mark Moorman, PhD; Director, Office of Food Safety, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
June 22, 2020
UPDATED GUIDANCE: What To Do When an Employee Tests Positive and Considerations for Identifying Exposed Employees: The following document shares a recommended protocol for the food industry to use when an employee or visitor tests positive or comes into close contact with someone with COVID-19. Review the protocol here. During a public health event, public health officials, including epidemiologists, use the term “contact tracing” to describe the process for identifying persons that have may have come into direct contact with an infected person. “Contact tracing” is typically performed in the United States by state and local public health departments using staff that is trained in contact tracing protocols, but employers can assist in this process when employees become infected and there is possible exposure to other employees in the work place. Review guidance here.
June 12, 2020
CDC Recommends Face Coverings for Public Gatherings: CDC officials urged organizers of large gatherings that involve shouting, chanting or singing to “strongly encourage” the use of cloth face coverings to lower the risk of spreading the coronavirus. CDC also offered a variety of other suggestions as normal activities resume, in addition to accepted measures such as hand-washing, wearing face coverings, and keeping six feet apart. Learn more via the audio recording or transcript from the CDC.
June 10, 2020
New OSHA Q&A on Cloth Face Coverings: OSHA generally recommends that employers encourage workers to wear face coverings at work. Face coverings are intended to prevent wearers who have COVID-19 without knowing it (i.e., those who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic) from spreading potentially infectious respiratory droplets to others. This is known as source control. Consistent with the CDC recommendation for all people to wear cloth face coverings when in public and around other people, wearing cloth face coverings, if appropriate for the work environment and job tasks, conserves other types of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as surgical masks, for healthcare settings where such equipment is needed most. Read the OSHA Q&A here.
June 1, 2020
FDA Clarifies Temporary Policy Regarding Certain Food Labeling Guidance – Flexibility Applies to Non Standards Foods At This Time: IDFA has recently learned that FDA’s flexibility does not apply to foods that are subject to a federal standard of identity, including most dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream products. Currently this guidance provides ingredient labeling details for minor formulation changes only for non standard foods and beverages such as frozen dairy desserts, dairy based beverages, cultured dairy snacks, cheeses such as Feta cheese or pizza cheese. While we are pleased that some of the products produced by IDFA members are included in this temporary flexibility, we are very disappointed with this new guidance from FDA. However, FDA has expressed a willingness to work with IDFA and the food industry to better understand what ingredient supply issues may be occurring that impact ingredients used in foods subject to standards of identity, and to consider possible needed revisions to the current guidance. IDFA is engaged in that process now. FDA’s Temporary Policy Regarding Certain Food Labeling Requirements can be accessed at this link.
May 27, 2020
Updates to Child Nutrition Programs During COVID-19: School meal programs continue to be an important way to get nutritious dairy foods to children, even while schools are closed. As you know, a number of waivers have been put into place to allow the meal programs to function differently in light of the pandemic. A number of waiver extensions and program clarifications have recently been released. USDA's Food and Nutrition Service announced extensions of three waivers throughout the summer months to provide flexibility to continue to feed kids through the child nutrition programs. The three extended waivers apply to the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program and will be in place through August 31, 2020:
Non-Congregate Feeding: Meals may be served outside the standard group setting to minimize exposure to coronavirus
Parent/Guardian Meal Pickup: Parents and guardians can pick up meals for their children to promote social distancing
Meal Times: Normal serving times are suspended to accommodate providing food to children and social distancing. This also allows for multiple days-worth of meals to be provided at once.
Additionally, a child or parent may pick up more than one day's worth of food at a time. FNS has released a tip sheet which clarifies how these multiple meals may be provided, including distributing frozen foods, such as frozen pizza, that a family may re-heat for a meal on a later day. A number of other waivers remain in effect. For additional information on waivers and guidance, visit the USDA FNS resource page.
May 22, 2020
IDFA Achieves Temporary Flexibility from FDA Regarding Certain Labeling Requirements for Foods: IDFA has worked with the FDA, along with the Food & Beverage Issue Alliance (FBIA), to request temporary flexibility with labeling ingredients that are omitted or substituted due to lack of supply due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. We are pleased to announce that today FDA provided guidance that addresses many of the ingredient supply issues that IDFA members told us were occurring for the dairy industry. FDA’s Temporary Policy Regarding Certain Food Labeling Requirements can be accessed at this link. The guidance provides ingredient labeling details for minor formulation changes and includes specific examples of what would be allowed and what would be outside of the scope of the policy.
USDA Offers Webinar to Learn More about Rural Development Business & Industry Loan Guarantee Program: This USDA program offers loan guarantees to rural businesses and agricultural producers that are not eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans. Loans may be used only to support rural businesses in rural areas (population less than 50,000 people) including agricultural producers, that were in operation on Feb. 15, 2020. To learn more about the RD Business & Industry Loan program, read the fact sheet here. For additional guidance and instruction on applying for B&I loans, attend the USDA webinars listed below:
FDA and USDA Sign MOU on Authorities under Defense Production Act: FDA and USDA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines responsibilities and emergency authorities under the Defense Production Act. The MOU established a process outlining the circumstances in which USDA could exercise its authority under the DPA by collaborating with the FDA over FDA-regulated manufacturers and operators , including dairy facilities. Although they hope the DPA authority will not need to be invoked, this MOU is an important part of the federal government's preparedness efforts to make sure there are processes in place to protect the food supply and prevent significant food shortages during the COVID-19 public health emergency. IDFA is in close contact with USDA and FDA. Read the MOU. Read the FDA statement on the MOU.
May 20, 2020
CDC Releases Detailed Guidelines for Reopening Businesses, Restaurants, Schools, Etc.: As businesses and other organizations gradually open after the COVID-19-related slowdown, they will need to consider a variety of measures for keeping people safe. These considerations include practices for scaling up operations, safety actions (e.g., cleaning and disinfection, social distancing), monitoring possible reemergence of illness, and maintaining health operations. Interim guidance for helping establishments with these steps is provided in this document. Review CDC guidance, Appendix F.
IDFA Breaks Down USDA CFAP Direct Payments to Dairy Producers: Curious to know more details about direct payments to producers, including dairy farmers, under USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)? CFAP is meant to provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and $3 billion for USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program. Dairy farmers are eligible to apply for payments today. Please read my blog to learn more. Read the IDFA blog post.
May 18, 2020
Dairy Organizations Call to Aid Other Nations by Filling Food Needs: The International Dairy Foods Association, the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council jointly urged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to use all tools at his disposal to “ensure high-quality, nutritious U.S. dairy products are made available to our international neighbors in need.” Read the joint letter to Secretary Perdue.
May 12, 2020
IDFA Applauds Bipartisan Legislation to Compensate Essential Workers in Food: The “Assistance and Gratitude for Coronavirus Heroes in Agribusiness who are Invaluable to the Nation Act”, or the AG CHAIN Act, is sponsored by Representatives GT Thompson and Dwight Evans, provides an exclusion from gross income taxes and temporary payroll tax relief to essential food and agriculture workers. Enactment of this legislation would be a tangible way to demonstrate our support for essential food and agriculture workers as they serve the nation during this difficult time while also incentivizing their continued commitment to work. Read more about AG CHAIN bill here.
IDFA and Americas’ Dairy Groups Warn EU Against Market-Distorting Practices: IDFA and dairy groups from across the Americas are flagging that the EU is preparing to interfere in the market again by accumulating dairy stocks through its Private Aid Storage program. The EU’s market-distorting practices are harmful enough during normal operations. If used in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has dramatically eroded dairy prices, they would be disastrous to the world dairy market by prolonging the current crushing economic conditions. We condemn any public Intervention buying due to its long-term negative impacts on the global market for dairy products. Read the statement from IDFA and others.
May 11, 2020
Was Your Proposal Deemed Unsuccessful or Do You Want to Request a Debriefing with USDA? If your company or organization submitted a proposal to USDA for the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, and it was deemed unsuccessful or was rejected, IDFA encourages you to request a debriefing by sending an email to the ERacquisition@usda.gov inbox with “Debriefing Request” and your company/organization name in the subject line of the email, no later than 8:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, May 14th.
May 9, 2020
USDA Awards $317 Million in Dairy Purchases as Part of Farmers to Families Food Box Program: For our dairy processors who have lost their foodservice and institutional business, IDFA is grateful that USDA plans to purchase $317 million in dairy products—from milk and butter, to cheese and yogurt—by June 30th. Our hope is that these purchases, alongside traditional Section 32 and entitlement program purchases, spur demand for additional dairy products and thereby keep the dairy supply intact throughout this crisis. See which companies were awarded contracts. Read IDFA's statement about the awards.
May 6, 2020
Food and Beverage Industry COVID-19 Test Method Factsheet: The purpose of this factsheet is to summarize and simplify for the general food and beverage industry COVID-19 test and testing information provided to the public by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and collected through other knowledgeable sources, based on the authors best understanding. The authors do not intend for this factsheet to constitute medical or legal advice or to serve as a substitute for official U.S. government guidance cited herein. Download the factsheet.
May 5, 2020
USDA Secretary Perdue Responds to Request from IDFA, Feeding America, NMPF to Purchase Dairy Products for Americans in Need: "Dear Dr. Dykes, Thank you for your letter on April 10, 2020, regarding your concerns about food banks’ ability to keep up with the increased demand in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19). We also appreciate your expressed support for strengthening existing partnerships to provide U.S. producers and for more nutritious dairy products." Read USDA's full response to IDFA.
USDA AMS Announces Plans to Purchase $120 Million in Dairy Products Through Section 32: USDA today announced details of $470 million in Section 32 food purchases to occur in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020 (between April 1 and June 30), in addition to purchases previously announced, which will enable USDA to purchase surplus food for distribution to communities nationwide. These Section 32 purchases include $120 million in dairy products. You must be an approved USDA vendor to offer a bid as they are announced. Read the announcement.
SBA Makes Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available to U.S. Agricultural Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic: Agricultural businesses are now eligible for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs. SBA’s EIDL portal will reopen today, May 4, as a result of funding authorized by Congress. The legislation, signed into law by the President one week ago, provided additional funding for farmers and ranchers and certain other agricultural businesses affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offers a pot of $60 billion that provides recipients with what are essentially $10,000 grants; businesses also can borrow up to $2 million. To apply, visit SBA. To watch a USDA/SBA webinar on the EIDL program, click here.
April 29, 2020
IDFA Briefing on USDA Food Box Distribution Solicitation: IDFA's Michael Dykes and Cary Frye brief members on the new Food Box Distribution Program and RFP process. Proposals in response to the USDA solicitation are due Friday, May 1 by 1 p.m. ET. Review the IDFA presentation here.
April 27, 2020
Updated FDA Guidance on Use of Respirators, Facemasks, and Cloth Face Coverings in the Food and Agriculture Sector During Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic: This fact sheet, developed in collaboration with CDC, provides a quick reference to these items potentially worn by workers in the food and agriculture sector. Review the guidance here.
New AMS Webinar Scheduled for Tuesday, April 28 at 12:00 p.m. ET: A pre-proposal webinar will walk through questions and answers about the Food Box Distribution Program. Join via Zoom at https://www.zoomgov.com/j/1602561314 or join by phone at 669-254-5252 or 646-828-7666 with webinar ID 160 256 1314.
IDFA Offers Briefing on USDA Food Box Distribution Solicitationon Wednesday, April 29 at 11:00 a.m. ET: IDFA is offering a web-based briefing on Wednesday, April 29 at 11:00 a.m. ET led by President & CEO Michael Dykes, D.V.M., to walk IDFA members through the new initiative and the proposal process. Get details on the briefing.
April 24, 2020
USDA's Food Box Distribution Program Solicitation: USDA today released an RFP for the $3 billion Food Box Distribution Program, which was announced one week ago by Secretary Perdue. This program is open to food producers, processors, and distributors that will supply food commodities including milk and a variety of dairy products to food banks, schools and non-profit organizations on a mutually agreeable, recurring schedule. Those interested are required to submit proposals by 1 p.m. ET on May 1. Offerers are not required to be approved USDA vendors to submit a proposal. Review the RFP on this page.
Recording of USDA AMS Webinar from 4/21 on the Food Box Distribution Program: Zoom meeting recording with David Tuckwiller, Christopher Purdy, Elizabeth Lober, Hilary Cole via video or MP3 recording
IDFA Offers Briefing on USDA Food Box Distribution Solicitation: IDFA is offering a web-based briefing on Wednesday, April 29, at 11:00 a.m. ET led by President & CEO Michael Dykes, D.V.M., to walk IDFA members through the new initiative and the proposal process. Get details on the briefing.
House Passes $484 Billion Coronavirus Relief Package with PPP Funding: The President is expected to sign a $484 billion coronavirus relief package into law today, opening the fourth tranche of funding to businesses and workers since March. The package includes an additional $321 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which ran out of the initial allotment of $350 billion in less than two weeks. The new legislative package reserves at least $125 billion for rural, minority-owned, and other very small businesses. IDFA encourages all members to speak with an SBA-approved lender to determine if they may be eligible for PPP. The new package also ensures farms will be made eligible for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans, a pot of $60 billion that provides recipients with what are essentially $10,000 grants; businesses also can borrow up to $2 million. The bill also contains an additional $75 billion in hospital funding and $25 billion for national coronavirus testing. IDFA recommends members get a jump on applying for PPP assistance once President Trump signs the bill into law today. Review the PPP information to prepare.
April 23, 2020
FEMA Fact Sheet on Addressing PPE Needs in Non-Healthcare Settings: This guidance summarizes how organizations should consider and manage their personal protective equipment (PPE) needs while ensuring the protection of workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response, including how to preserve limited supplies of PPE, how to consider need during periods of shortages, and how to acquire and request PPE (i.e., in the face of critical shortages and whereas normal supply chain allocation cannot meet operational requirements). Review the FEMA fact sheet.
April 22, 2020
IDFA Breaks Down USDA's New Food Box Distribution Program: Last Friday, USDA announced that it is exercising authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to purchase and distribute up to $3 billion of agricultural products to those in need. USDA AMS will procure an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products and $100 million per month in meat products to provide boxes of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to food banks and other non-profits serving Americans in need. USDA will issue a solicitation within one week to invite proposals from offerors to supply commodity boxes to non-profit organizations, identified by the offeror, on a mutually agreeable, recurring schedule. USDA will award contracts for the purchase of the agricultural products, the assembly of commodity boxes and delivery to identified non-profit organizations that can receive, store and distribute food items. Those interested in submitting a proposal DO NOT need to be approved vendors required under traditional Section 32 programs. To learn more, see IDFA's analysis of the program.
Senate Passes $450B Relief Package Clearing Way for House Vote Tomorrow: Congress has reached agreement on a $450 billion coronavirus relief package--the fourth such package passed by Congress since March. The package includes an additional $320 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which ran out of the initial allotment of $350 billion in less than two weeks. The new legislative package reserves at least $125 billion for rural, minority-owned, and other very small businesses. IDFA encourages all members to speak with an SBA-approved lender to determine if they may be eligible for PPP. The new package also ensures farms will be made eligible for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans, which provide recipients with what are essentially $10,000 grants, and businesses also can borrow up to $2 million. The bill also contains an additional $75 billion in hospital funding and $30 billion for national coronavirus testing. The House is expected to pass the bill on Thursday. IDFA recommends members prepare to apply for PPP assistance once President Trump signs the bill into law on Thursday or Friday this week. Review the PPP information to prepare.
April 21, 2020
List of Suppliers of PPE for Food Industry Workers: The Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force has identified the attached list of distributors that have or soon will have significant quantities of PPE available, including non-medical-grade face masks (including cloth masks). These distributors are prepared to receive requests from entities within the food and agriculture sector that have an immediate need for PPE that cannot be satisfied through their existing distributors. See the list of PPE providers.
April 17, 2020
Statement from Michael Dykes, D.V.M., on Support for Dairy in USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program: Michael Dykes highlights what is in the USDA announcement for the dairy industry, including $16 billion in payments to producers and $3 billion for food purchases, including at least $100 million per month in U.S. government purchases of a wide array of dairy products. Despite the assistance, the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply damaged the nation’s dairy industry. The dairy industry expects to lose $5-$10 billion in sales for the remainder of the year. Foodservice closures, a weakened export outlook, and challenges within the supply chain have created conditions where the milk supply exceeds demand by at least 10%. For dairy processors who have lost their foodservice business, IDFA is grateful that the expected USDA purchases will go to those most in need. Read the full statement.
OSHA to Use Enforcement Discretion During COVID-19: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, OSHA understands that some employers may face difficulties complying with OSHA standards due to the ongoing health emergency. OSHA will exercise enforcement discretion as facilities seeking to comply with OSHA standards face challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance explains how OSHA will determine whether a facility has made a good faith effort to comply with OSHA standards, such as annual audiograms, annual PSM requirements and medical evaluations. Review the OSHA memo.
April 15, 2020
USDA Allows Larger Container Sizes in School Meals for Milk, Other Foods & Beverages: In response to the recent proposal from IDFA and NMPF, USDA announced expanded options for serving sizes of milk larger than 8 ounces with school meals operating under Summer Food Service Program. This means that as long as a minimum of 8 ounces of milk is provided with each meal, the milk may be in a larger container. USDA issued a Q&A with greater detail that applies to all child nutrition programs. Read the USDA Q&A here.
April 14, 2020
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Posts Guidance on ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws: On April 9, EEOC added more technical assistance questions and answers to their website to help employers comply with ADA and other EEO laws in asking disability-related questions and about medical exams. Please see the EEOC guidance.
OSHA’s Interim COVID-19 Enforcement Response Plan: This Interim Enforcement Response Plan for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) provides instructions and guidance to Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for handling COVID-19-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports. See the Response Plan.
April 13, 2020
OSHA Interim Guidance Regarding Enforcement of COVID-19 as a Recordable Illness: You may read the full guidance here OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR § 1904 to require employers to make work-relatedness determinations, except where:
There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related. This could include, for example, a number of cases developing among workers who work closely together without an alternative explanation; and
The evidence was reasonably available to the employer. Examples of reasonably available evidence include information given to the employer by employees, as well as information that an employer learns regarding its employees’ health and safety in the ordinary course of managing its business and employees.
April 10, 2020
Food Industry Sends Letter to President Trump on Essential Worker Compensation: Twenty-seven organizations signed a letter to President Trump: "As you work on the next relief package, we strongly urge you to target direct tax relief to the dedicated, brave and talented men and women working tirelessly on the front lines of this epidemic." Read the letter to the President.
Feeding America, IDFA, NMPF Send Joint Letter to USDA: The letter, sent today, states: “Feeding America understands how critical our nation’s producers, growers, and processors are to ensuring food insecure individuals have access to nutritious food. NMPF and IDFA understand the critical role of wholesome, nutritious dairy products in helping address the dramatic increase in food insecurity across our great nation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this partnership of food banks and dairy producers and processors, and the work of USDA to provide vital dairy purchases through the Food Purchase and Distribution Program, food banks have been able to distribute large amounts of critically needed milk, cheese, and butter to communities in need. … We also urge you to support innovative partnerships that can quickly and efficiently move fluid milk and other dairy products into the food bank system as time is of the essence." Read the letter.
USDA Addresses Milk Dumping, Authorizes Other Flexibilities To Help Producers Amid Coronavirus Pandemic: USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) has issued a press release and posted a Manager’s Bulletin to address milk dumping and provide other flexibilities to help producers amid the coronavirus pandemic. RMA is ensuring that milk producers are not inappropriately penalized if their milk must be dumped because of recent market disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. See the USDA information here.
New CDC Guidance for Essential Workers Exposed to Coronavirus to Return to Their Jobs: CDC officials now say essential employees, including dairy processing workers, who have been within six feet of a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 can go back to work if they are not experiencing symptoms and adhere to the following protocol measures. See the CDC guidelines here.
April 8, 2020
April 7, 2020
Waivers for Serving Varieties of Milk in School Meals & Summer Feeding: USDA is giving states the option to request waivers for a variety of child nutrition programs so local operators can create meals with the foods they have available, including varieties of fluid milk. During the state of emergency with schools closed, schools can operate under different meal pattern rules. Schools operating under the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) rules can serve any fat level of milk, including whole and 2%, plain and flavored milk. However, schools operating under Seamless Summer Option (SSO) must request a waiver from their state agency to differ from the typical school milk options. To find the waivers or to request a waiver for your state, visit USDA FNS and click on your state.
April 6, 2020
IDFA and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) Urge Immediate, Comprehensive Action from USDA: IDFA and NMPF sent a set of recommendations to USDA today, urging the Administration to take swift, comprehensive action to support the U.S. dairy industry through the COVID-19 crisis. The Milk Crisis Plan outlines how this crisis is affecting the U.S. dairy industry from farm to fork, and underscores the main challenge facing U.S. dairy today: Supply exceeds demand by at least 10% – a gap that could widen as supply increases to its seasonal peak and as “shelter in place” conditions endure. IDFA and NMPF urge USDA to use as many tools as possible – as quickly as possible – to bridge the supply and demand gap without creating any long-term market repercussions. Read the joint IDFA-NMPF Milk Crisis Plan for USDA.
Food Industry Protocol for New Face Covering Guidance from CDC: CDC now recommends, based on new evidence, that everyone should wear a facial covering in public settings, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. CDC states, "Recent studies found that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms ('asymptomatic') and that even those who eventually develop symptoms ('pre-symptomatic') can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity - for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing - even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.” Please review the food industry's protocol for face coverings.
April 3, 2020
Guidance on Small Business Loans, Tax Incentives, Benefits to Workers: Over the past week, a variety of government agencies have issued new guidance, rules and applications for new programs and policies related to actions by Congress to address the COVID-19 crisis. IDFA has assembled helpful guidance, fact sheets and webinars to help our members navigate these new programs and offerings. To learn more about the SBA’s small business loan programs and more, please download the IDFA Fact Sheet: Guidance on Small Business Loans, Tax Incentives, Benefits to Workers.
IDFA and Coalition of 17 Food Industry Associations Request Federal Aid for Critical Food Industry Employees: Essential critical infrastructure workers are fighting a war against the coronavirus at great personal cost, and these workers should be recognized and supported by the federal government. Whether by exempting these essential critical infrastructure workers from federal taxes and requiring immediate adjustments to their tax withholding, or by providing direct payments, the federal government should stand by these workers as they serve as the nation’s lifeline during this difficult time. Read the sign-on letter.
April 2, 2020
Download the SBA Paycheck Protection Application: You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program. Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020. Download the application.
DOL Issues Temporary Regulation Implementing New Paid Sick Leave & Expanded Family Medical Leave: Today the Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division (WHD) issued a temporary regulation implementing the new paid sick leave and expanded family medical leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the COVID-19 financial package passed by Congress in mid-March. The rule is in effect on April 1, 2020. The WHD will post a recorded webinar on Friday, April 3, 2020, to provide a more in-depth description and help them learn more about the FFCRA. To view the new regulation, guidance documents and the webinar, visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.
FDA Provides Flexibility Regarding Menu Labeling Requirements for Chain Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments During the COVID-19 Pandemic: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, FDA today released a guidance document, Temporary Policy Regarding Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Chain Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, to provide temporary flexibility to chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments currently required to provide nutrition information, including calories, on menus and menu boards. Read the FDA guidance.
New SBA Loan Program Protects Payroll for Businesses under 500: The Small Business Administration released rules Tuesday for a $349 billion forgivable loan program that is intended to help businesses, including farms and other agricultural employers, all across the country to rehire or retain workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Under the Paycheck Protection Program, businesses with fewer than 500 employees may qualify for a loan up to $10 million based on their eight weeks of prior average payroll, plus an additional 25% of that amount. SBA will forgive the portion of the loan that is used for payroll costs, and loan payments won’t start for six months. The interest rate will be 0.5%. Learn more from SBA.
March 30, 2020
See Which States Have 'Stay-At-Home' Orders in Place and Review State Policies Related to COVID-19: Track and compare what governments are doing at the city, county, and state level to combat the coronavirus and COVID-19. Review here.
Federal Legislation Allows States to Issue Permits for Trucks to Operate Over 80,000 lb Limit: The $2 trillion CARES Act, signed into law last week by President Trump, included language that allows states to issue permits for trucks to operate at weights over the current 80,000 lb limit. IDFA encourages dairy companies and suppliers to check with the states that are relevant to your company's movement of freight over the highways. Some states may issue a general order lifting weight limits and may not require a permit. Others may be more detailed, lifting limits only to specified levels and for certain types of trucks. Still others will require a permit. If a permit is required, there will be a fee. For a list of state waivers and permitting requirements, visit the Federal Highway Administration, State Oversize/Overweight Load Permit Contacts: https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/Freight/sw/permit_report/index.htm#obt
Preventative Measures for Physical Distancing in Food Manufacturing as Related to COVID-19: In order to manage COVID-19 risks to employees, it is critical for food manufacturing facilities to closely review current policies and procedures relative to current knowledge of the risks. The following guidance is based on our current knowledge of the virus and designed to help companies review and amend current policies. This protocol was developed by a coalition of food industry associations, including IDFA, with the best available guidance from FDA, CDC, and other authorities. Download the protocol.
States Granted Authority to Offer Maximum Allowable SNAP Benefits: Under the recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act, or phase two funding package from mid-March, states may request a waiver from the USDA Food Nutrition Service to take their participating SNAP households up to the national maximum-benefit level. In general, that could mean about an additional $50 per recipient, or $200 for a household of four.
March 29, 2020
CDC Statement on Self-Quarantine Guidance for Greater New York City Transportation and Delivery Workers: Truck drivers and other workers who obtain or deliver needed supplies who live in the greater New York area may continue to work. However, CDC asks that truck drivers follow their guidance. Read the statement from CDC.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Releases Official Guidance on 'Critical Infrastructure Workforce': The advisory list identifies workers who conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continued critical infrastructure viability. It also includes workers who support crucial supply chains and enable functions for critical infrastructure. The document is meant to advise state, local, tribal, and territorial governments. Read the guidance.
March 27, 2020
FDA Will Not Enforce New Nutrition Facts Label in 2020: Thanks to advocacy from IDFA's Regulatory Affairs team, in collaboration with the Food & Beverage Issue Alliance, FDA announced that it will not enforce use of the new Nutrition Facts labels in 2020. Pending any further guidance from FDA, companies should plan to begin using the new Nutrition Facts Label no later than Jan. 1, 2021. Read the guidance from FDA.
Statement from IDFA's Michael Dykes on Congressional Passage of $2 Trillion CARES Act: Dykes also highlights the need for the federal government to make dairy purchases for nutrition and feeding programs and food banks. Read the statement.
UPDATED: Food Industry Recommended Protocols When Employee/Customer Tests Positive for COVID- 19: The following document shares a recommended protocol for the food industry to use when an employee or visitor tests positive or comes into close contact with someone with COVID-19. This protocol has been reviewed by the FDA. Review the protocol here.
March 26, 2020
IDFA & Coalition Secure Temporary Flexibility from FDA to Sell Certain Foods Packaged/Labeled for Food Service at Retail: For food service businesses and food manufacturers that wish to sell packaged food to consumers directly or to other businesses for sale to consumers, or if retail packaging for certain food products is unavailable, the FDA does not intend to object provided that the food does not have any nutrition claims and contains other required information on the label. IDFA advocated directly to FDA for this change. Please see the FDA guidance.
Qatar Cancels Export Requirements for U.S. Goods: The nation of Qatar has canceled plans to require COVID-19-related certifications for food imports. USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service confirmed the cancellation to IDFA and provided documentation from the government of Qatar, available here. Despite many rumors, IDFA has confirmed with USDA that, at present, there are no COVID-19 related export restrictions in place for U.S. dairy exports.
IDFA Breaks Down $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill: Overnight, the Senate passed a $2 trillion funding bill to blunt the worse impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’s economic impact to U.S. businesses, households and workers in all sectors of the economy including food and agriculture. Pending a vote by the House, the President has signaled his intention to sign it into law. Read IDFA's analysis of the legislation.
USDA Announces Flexibility for FMMO Program: Yesterday evening, USDA issued a "Notice to Trade" announcing flexibilities to be used within the Federal milk marketing order program due to COVID-19. IDFA has detailed those changes for dairy stakeholders in a short fact sheet, the details of which are subject to change as we learn more information about the FMMO updates. Read the FMMO changes here.
March 25, 2020
Minnesota Issues Stay-At-Home Order: This afternoon, Minnesota's Governor issued an executive order directing Minnesotans to stay at home for 2 weeks. The order will go into effect on Friday, March 27, at 11:59 p.m. through April 10. Individuals who work in critical sectors during this time are exempt from the stay at home order. These exemptions are consistent with federal guidance and include jobs in food and agriculture. Read the Governor's order.
Industry Sign-On Letters: IDFA has added a new section to this resource page called, Industry Sign-On Letters to Congress, Administration. As part of IDFA's advocacy on behalf of the dairy industry, we sometimes co-sign letters with other trade associations, organizations, and coalition partners to demonstrate unity on an issue and to push for changes that are in the best interest of our members and the dairy industry. The sign-on letters related to COVID-19 are below.
USDA Operations Allowed to Operate During Shelter in Residence Orders: Many cities and states have directed that individuals shelter at their place of residence except that they may leave to provide or receive certain essential services or engage in certain essential services and work for essential business and government services. In this memo, the USDA has determined that the following functions are performing an essential government service or activity, both of which qualify under exemptions, or preempt any conflicting city or state provision, thus providing a basis for exemption from the shelter in place requirement and supporting critical federal infrastructure sectors. USDA AMS and AMS contractors are covered in the memo. Read the USDA memo.
March 24, 2020
USDA Offers State Waivers for WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children):The Families First Coronavirus Response Act gives USDA authority to allow states to request a waiver for WIC's supplemental food substitutions requirements. The approval to waive the requirement to adhere to the participant’s specific supplemental food package includes the ability to substitute unavailable WIC supplemental foods for different foods providing the nutritional equivalent of foods prescribed by the Secretary, which could mean substituting 2% milk for 1% or nonfat milk. Processors and retailers will need to contact their respective state WIC directors to urge them to make a waiver request of USDA. To find the state WIC contacts to request a waiver, visit USDA FNS.
U.S.-Canada Pledge to Preserve Supply Chain on Both Sides of Border: The United States and Canada recognize it is critical we preserve supply chains between both countries. These supply chains ensure that food, fuel, and life-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border. Supply chains, including trucking, will not be impacted by this new measure, report both governments. Americans and Canadians also cross the land border every day to do essential work or for other urgent or essential reasons, and that travel will not be impacted. Read the joint statement on US-Canada Joint Initiative: Temporary Restriction of Travelers Crossing the US-Canada Land Border for Non-Essential Purposes.
March 23, 2020
Wisconsin Closes All Non-Essential Businesses; Food Industry Deemed Essential: Wisconsin Governor will close all workplaces that aren't deemed essential, ordering nearly all workers in the state to work remotely. In a series of tweets announcing the "Safer At Home" order, the Governor said, "Workers providing essential care or services in our communities will be allowed to continue to travel to and from work. That includes folks like healthcare professionals, grocers, family caregivers, among other people whose work is critical for folks across our state." Restaurants and bars may stay open but only for delivery and curbside pick-up orders. Read the Governor's Order here.
Food Industry Recommended Protocols When Employee/Customer Tests Positive for COVID- 19: The following document shares a recommended protocol for the food industry to use when an employee or visitor tests positive or comes into close contact with someone with COVID-19. This protocol has been reviewed by the FDA. Review the protocol here.
Qatar Requires Export Certificate: The nation of Qatar has introduced a new COVID-19-related certification requirement for food imports, meaning that all consignments of food products must now be accompanied with a certificate or statement from the competent authorities in the country of origin stating that: "All necessary measures have been taken to ensure that the consignment is not contaminated with Coronavirus COVID-19, whether it relates to workers or procedures". USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service recommends U.S. companies to submit a corporate letterhead document with the required statement. See the message from the Qatari Government here.
March 22, 2020
Care of Children of Essential Workers in State of Minnesota: As more schools close, workers in essential or critical sectors must continue to perform their duties. Some states have begun to issue guidance and services to the working parents and caregivers of children. Under the Minnesota Governor’s Executive Order 20-02, free school age care for the children of emergency workers and others--including food industry workers--was outlined. The orders direct schools to provide care to, at a minimum, district-enrolled students aged 12 and under. See Minnesota's guidance here.
March 20, 2020
U.S.-Mexico Border: The U.S. and Mexico have agreed to curtail travel across their roughly 2,000-mile border, allowing trade and workers to continue crossing but limiting most other travel amid the new coronavirus pandemic. Transport of food and agricultural goods and supplies should not be impacted by the partial closure.
California: The California State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health is ordering all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence, except as needed to maintain continuity of operation of the federal critical infrastructure sectors, which includes food and agricultural production, processing, transport, retail, etc. Read the full executive order here.
March 19, 2020
Dairy Is Critical: The federal government today provided clear guidance on what it means for the food and agricultural industry (particularly dairy) to be 1 of 16 of the nation’s “critical infrastructure industries,” and what safeguards this provides to help avoid major disruptions in operations, transportation, and supplies. The Department of Homeland Security issued this guidance today, including the full food/ag value chain as critical, and calling out “food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include those employed in food processing (packers, meat processing, cheese plants, milk plants, produce, etc.).”
Houston Port Closure: Earlier today, the Port of Houston temporarily closed two container terminals after reports that an employee who works at both tested positive for COVID-19. The rest of the port is unaffected. UPDATE: The port reopened the terminals late in the afternoon.
Expanded Emergency Declaration - Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): To implement the President’s nationwide emergency declaration, the FMCSA expanded its March 13, 2020 emergency regulatory relief declaration (see Transportation section, below) from Parts 390-399 to ensure that commercial motor carriers and drivers directly supporting relief efforts can immediately transport essential supplies, equipment and persons, including food, fuel and medical care. The following relief categories relate to the food sector: food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores; immediate precursor raw materials, such as paper, plastic or alcohol, that are required and to be used for the manufacture of these items; and fuel. See the full declaration at FMCSA.dot.gov.
March 18, 2020
FDA Suspends Inspections: The FDA announced they have temporarily postponed all domestic routine surveillance facility inspections due to COVID-19. This includes but is not limited to food industry-related inspections. The FDA will continue to conduct domestic for-cause inspections if they are determined to be mission-critical, which includes inspections that are linked to recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks. While FDA typically does not announce when they plan to visit a facility for inspection, for the time being they will pre-announce their arrival for inspections that are conducted.
Congress Passes Coronavirus Funding Package: Congressional leaders and Administration officials finalized a second legislative package today to bring relief to American workers. The House passed the bill on Monday, March 16, and the Senate adopted it today by a vote of 90 to 8. The President signed it into law. To learn more,visit the IDFA Blog.
New Guidance: Frequently Asked Questions for Dairy Processors: IDFA has developed this guidance document to provide producers, processors, and manufacturers of food with answers to questions about the safe production of food and the health of employees given the current environment where COVID-19 is present. Included are references where additional information by authoritative bodies can be found. The document provides recommendations on what to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19. Download the FAQs here.
Self-Certify as Critical Infrastructure Industry: We have received a handful of reports that local authorities in at least two states have stopped trucks carrying food products from entering or leaving quarantined zones. To ensure our dairy industry is able to do its job in service to the nation, IDFA suggests your company use this form to self-certify your employees or shipments as part of the nation's critical infrastructure. Print the form on official company letterhead (your own or that of your transportation provider), print a copy, sign the document where indicated, and ask the employee or driver to keep it on-hand to provide to authorities should they stop individuals or vehicles from carrying out their duties. Download the form here.
COVID-19 Policy Tracker: A number of cities, states and counties have been issuing and revising emergency orders that may threaten manufacturers’ ability to operate as part of our nation's critical infrastructure. This COVID-19 Policy Tracker, by MultiState, is a resource to help manufacturers navigate this rapidly-evolving landscape. Please consult with regulators within the appropriate jurisdiction and your own stakeholders including legal counsel before making a determination on how to best proceed with your company’s operations. View the Policy Tracker here.
The White House issued The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America - 15
Days to Slow the Spread, with 7 general rules
to slow the spread of COVID-19. The WH document recognizes food as one of the
nation's "critical infrastructure industries": If you work
in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland
Security, such as healthcare services, pharmaceutical and food supply, you have
a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule. You and your
employers should follow CDC guidance to protect your health at work.
One day after the CDC advised Americans to avoid
large gatherings of 50 people or more for 8 weeks, several states today
announced the closure of bars, restaurants, cinemas, and other social gathering
spots until further notice.
March 15, 2020
The Federal Reserve announced that it would cut its
target interest rate to a range of 0 to 0.25 percent, returning interest rates
to the record lows they reached during 2008-09.
Due to the National Emergency declared by the
President on Friday, March 13, 2020, motor carriers and drivers providing
direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19
outbreaks are granted emergency relief from Parts 390 through 399 of Title 49
Code of Federal Regulations, except as advised. Please see the Transportation
& Trucking section, below, for a full update.
March 13, 2020
The President of the United States declared a
National Emergency to ensure appropriate federal funding and collaboration
among federal, state and local officials responding to the outbreak.
IDFA announced the postponement of the Ice Cream
Technology and Yogurt & Cultured Innovation conferences scheduled for March
31 – April 1 at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay in Miami, Fla. IDFA is working
with the hotel property to determine a suitable date to reschedule the events,
and as soon as we have these details, we will communicate them directly to
members and participants.