Since its discovery in Wuhan, China, last year, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has reached pandemic status, infecting more than 1 million people, causing more than 50,000 deaths, and inflicting widespread economic devastation. Despite the shuttering of businesses, the distancing of civilians, and other measures taken by governments to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the dairy industry has persisted as one of the nation's critical industries in producing, processing, packaging, transporting, selling and serving fresh, safe, and nutritious dairy products to the nation and the world. #Essential dairy industry employees show up to work every day—despite the challenges posed by the virus—to continue to serve fellow citizens.

IDFA members are managing preparedness within their companies and organizations to the best of their ability. IDFA has compiled the following resources related to workforce, supply chains, travel, and other issues, and is communicating daily with the industry at-large to relay best practices, guidance, and other updates related to the crisis.

Below, you'll find these resources, daily updates, and ways to remain informed and engaged. Please email us at coronavirus@idfa.org with any questions, and sign up to receive IDFA communications via the link below.

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IDFA launched the #Essential campaign to recognize and thank the men and women working tirelessly through the Coronavirus outbreak to provide consumers with fresh, safe, nutritious dairy products. Learn more.

Latest Updates

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:

May 21, 2020

  • 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.

May 4, 2020

  • Food Industry Letter to Vice President Pence Requesting Testing Prioritization
  • 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.

Updates from April 2020

Updates from March 2020


What We Know about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV or COVID-19) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.

According to CDC and WHO estimates, there are more than 5.6 million cases worldwide, including more than 1.7 million cases and 100,000 deaths reported in the United States.

IDFA recommends members regularly review the most recent guidance issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO):

The CDC recommends all Americans wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick; and avoid gatherings of 10 or more people. 


Guidance to Employers

Preparedness

The CDC instructs all employers to prepare to implement strategies to protect their workforce 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. CDC recommends employers should:

  1. Ensure the plan is flexible and involve your employees in developing and reviewing your plan.
  2. Conduct a focused discussion or exercise using your plan, to find out ahead of time whether the plan has gaps or problems that need to be corrected.
  3. Share your plan with employees and explain what human resources policies, workplace and leave flexibilities, and pay and benefits will be available to them.
  4. Share best practices with other businesses in your communities (especially those in your supply chain), chambers of commerce, and associations to improve community response efforts.

For companies that want to review or refresh pandemic preparedness plans, the WHO provides the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response manual, free of charge.

FDA & Industry Guidance to Employers

The FDA has issued specific guidance to employers who have questions about what to do when an employee is positive with COVID-19. FDA emphasizes that the primary responsibility of food companies with an infected worker is to take appropriate actions to protect other workers and people who may have come into contact with the ill employee. FDA advises that if an employee in a food processing facility or farm tests positive for COVID-19, facilities should take the following steps to ensure the foods they produce are safe:

  • Inform fellow employees of the possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, while maintaining confidentiality;
  • Instruct sick employees to follow the CDC’s What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 COVID-19 guidance
  • Re-double cleaning and sanitation efforts to control any risks that might be associated with workers who are ill, regardless of the type of virus or bacteria, using EPA-recommended disinfectants
  • Consult with the local health department for additional guidance, including whether to request other workers self-quarantine for 14 days if they have been exposed to the worker who tested positive for COVID-19.

Resources from FDA, CDC, USDA, OSHA, Industry

  • 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 CDC, 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.
  • What To Do When an Employee Tests Positive: 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.
  • 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.
  • Screening Food Industry Employees for COVID-19 Symptoms or Exposure : As community transmission of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly to other regions, dairy food companies should consider implementing employee screening programs to evaluate staff and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19 or possible exposure prior to entering company facilities. The following guidance discusses factors that companies should consider when deciding if employee/visitor screening is appropriate and how best to implement it. Review guidance here.
  • Considerations for Identifying Exposed Employees as Related to COVID-19: 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. Review guidance here.
  • COVID-19 Employee Symptoms/Testing Status-Based Decision Tool for Food Facilities: This tools for helping to determine testing protocols is based on federal guidance as of April 23, 2020. Review the tool here.
  • Physical or Social Distancing Protocol: 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 considerations are based on what we presently know about the virus and are provided to assist companies in reviewing and amending current policies as related to identifying potentially exposed workers so that such workers can be notified and other relevant actions pertaining to the facility, including targeted cleaning, can be taken in a timely manner. Download the protocol.
  • FDA Guidance on Use of Respirators, Facemasks, and Cloth Face Coverings in the Food and Agriculture Sector During Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic: Review the guidance here.
  • FDA & USDA Fact Sheet for Food and Agriculture: Considerations for Prioritization of PPE, Cloth Face Coverings, Disinfectants, and Sanitation Supplies During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The purpose of this document is to share recommendations for addressing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), cloth face coverings,1 disinfectants, and sanitation supplies in the food and agriculture industry in order to help maintain employee safety, continuity of the food supply, food safety, and employee/consumer confidence. Review the factsheet.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Manufacturing Workers and Employers: Interim Guidance from CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): This guidance provides guidance to the manufacturing industry, including food industry, on steps to take to prevent spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Review the OSHA guidance.

General Guidance on Human Resources, Wages & Benefits

  • IDFA Fact Sheet on Loans, Taxes and Wages: IDFA has developed a fact sheet to help members sort through the variety of new guidance, rules and applications for new programs and policies related to actions by Congress to address the COVID-19 crisis. Please download the IDFA Fact Sheet: Guidance on Small Business Loans, Tax Incentives, Benefits to Workers.
  • SBA Loan Programs: 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.
  • 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 on May 4, as a result of funding authorized by Congress. To apply, visit SBA. To watch a USDA/SBA webinar on the EIDL program, click here.
  • DOL Guidance: The Department of Labor (DOL) provides practical guidance on preventing the spread of COVID-19 and for creating and maintaining safe work practices: Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19. The Wage and Hour Division of DOL provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to influenza, pandemics, or other public health emergencies: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.
  • How the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Supports Workers and Businesses: DOL's Wage and Hour Division announced its first round of published guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The new law will be in effect from April 1 to December 31, 2020, applies to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, and provides an exemption for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. The Department will publish more guidance later this week, including more Q&A and a workplace poster. The guidance addresses critical questions, such as how an employer must count the number of their employees to determine coverage; how businesses with fewer than 50 employees can obtain an exemption; how to count hours for part-time employees; and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law. Please read the Q&A from DOL.
  • Sick Leave Guidance: DOL's Wage and Hour Division issued a temporary regulation on April 1, 2020, 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.
  • 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.
  • Recording of COVID-19 Work-Related Illness Under OSHA's Record-keeping Requirements: Under OSHA’s record-keeping regulation, when an employee contracts an illness the employer must consider if it is “work-related.” An illness is work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. Starting on May 26, the following guidance will apply and the old policy will be rescinded. Read the OSHA guidance.
  • 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.

Labeling & Nutrition Resources & Guidance

  • Nutrition Facts Label: 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.
  • Selling Food for Foodservice 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 if the packaged food lacks a Nutrition Facts label, provided that the food does not have any nutrition claims and contains other required information on the label. Please see the FDA guidance.
  • Restaurant Menu Labeling: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • WIC Waivers: 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.
  • WIC Waivers: To see the WIC waivers that apply to specific states, see this IDFA resource document, IDFA Summary of State WIC Food Package Flexibilities in Response to COVID-19; Allowable Substitutions in effect until May 31, 2020.
  • SNAP Waivers: Under the recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act, 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.

Become an Approved USDA Vendor

To be eligible to submit offers, milk processors must meet the AMS vendor qualification requirements. Deliveries are expected to be to various locations in the U.S. on an FOB destination basis. Bids, modifications, withdrawals of bids, and price adjustments shall be submitted using the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system. If you have any questions, please reach out to Taylor Boone at IDFA (TBoone@IDFA.org) or Melissa Malcolm-Cullison (MMalcolm@MilkPEP.org). In preparation for these bids, please review all documents as they pertain to this program, including the latest: NEW Master Solicitation (as of October 1, 2019) Economic Price Adjustment Clause (*this bid solicitation will include a monthly economic price adjustment (EPA) to accommodate monthly escalation and reduction of raw milk costs that more closely resembles what is used in the commercial marketplace) Bid Certification Questions Fluid Milk Q&A UPDATED Commodity Requirements Document (CRD) for Fluid Milk Commercial Item Description Fluid Milk Product New Vendor Qualification Requirements and Checklist.

How to Become an Approved Vendor: As only USDA-approved vendors can participate in the bidding process, it is critical for fluid milk processors who are not approved to apply now as the approval process can take several weeks. Potential new vendors can contact the USDA for questions at NewVendor@ams.usda.gov. Milk processors can also contact IDFA and MilkPEP directly for more information. You can also access links to AMSvendor approval guidance and webinar recordings for more information at MilkPEP.org.


USDA Food Box Distribution Program

  • USDA's Food Box Distribution Program Solicitation: USDA has released an RFP for the $3 billion Food Box Distribution Program, which was announced on April 17 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.
    • Submit proposals by 1 p.m. ET on May 1, no exceptions
    • Recording of USDA AMS Webinar from 4/28 on the Food Box Distribution Program: Zoom meeting recording with David Tuckwiller, Christopher Purdy, Elizabeth Lober, Hilary Cole available on video

USDA Dairy Solicitations, Commodity Purchases

May 26, 2020: USDA announced a bid solicitation for Mozzarella Cheese funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act which compensates farmers for losses due to price declines that occurred between mid-January 2020 and mid-April 2020. USDA’s purchases of cheese will be for delivery to specific locations across the nation for food banks during July 1 through August 31, 2020. The deadline to submit your bids for the new solicitation is Wednesday, June 3 at 9:00 a.m. CT / 10 a.m. ET, which includes:

May 20, 2020: USDA announced a bid solicitation for Cheddar Cheese Shreds funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act which compensates farmers for losses due to price declines that occurred between mid-January 2020 and mid-April 2020. USDA’s purchases of cheese will be for delivery to specific locations across the nation for food banks during July 1 through August 31, 2020. The deadline to submit your bids for the new solicitation is Wednesday, May 27 at 1:00 p.m. CT / 2 p.m. ET, which includes:

May 8, 2020: USDA recently announced two new bid solicitations for fluid milk as part of a $50 million purchase of fluid milk in 2020 under Section 32 (Act of August 24, 1935) for distribution to various food and nutrition assistance programs. The deadline to submit your bids for the solicitations is Friday, May 22 at 1 p.m. CT / 2 p.m. ET, which include:

  • Solicitation 1: 104,100 gallons of 2% reduced fat and whole milk and 40,500 half gallons of 1% low fat and 2% reduced fat milk, which will be scheduled for delivery at locations throughout Massachusetts, Montana, Washington, Vermont and Idaho from July 6 to September 20, 2020.
  • Solicitation 2: 1,926,000 gallons of 1% low fat, 2% reduced fat and whole milk and 2,405,700 half gallons of 1% low fat and 2% reduced fat milk, which will be scheduled for delivery at locations throughout 35 states across the U.S. from July 6 to September 20, 2020.

April 30, 2020: USDA announced two new Bid Solicitations for the purchase of String Cheese for deliveries from July 1 to September 15, 2020 and Yogurt, Butter, Pepper Jack Shreds, Cheddar Slices, and Process Cheese for deliveries from June 1 to September 30, 2020. The specific delivery locations across the United States are provided in the solicitations. The deadline to submit your bids for the solicitation of string cheese is Tuesday, May 12 at 9:00 a.m. CT / 10 a.m. ET, which includes:

The deadline to submit your bids for the solicitation of yogurt, butter, pepper jack shreds, cheddar slices, and process cheese is Thursday, May 14 at 1:00 p.m. CT / 2:00 p.m. ET, which includes:

April 22, 2020: USDA announced Bid Solicitations for the purchase of Butter and Cheddar Cheese with the purpose to assist farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation. Delivery of products will be to food bank sites across the United States for the time period of July 1 – September 30, 2020. The deadline to submit your bids for the new solicitation is Wednesday, May 6 at 1:00 p.m. CT / 2 p.m. ET, which includes:

April 20, 2020: USDA announced Bid Solicitations for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) procurement of Process Cheese, Butter, and Cheddar Cheese Shreds. The FFCRA purchases will be similar to the past Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and trade mitigation where USDA buys dairy products for USDA approved vendors to deliver to food banks at specific locations across the United States. The deadline to submit your bids for the solicitation is Monday, April 27 at 1:00 p.m. CT / 2 p.m. ET, which includes:

Food Safety, Safe Operations & Inspections

Food Is Safe: It is important to note that no public health authority has advised of any concern that this illness can be transmitted or has been known to be transmitted via food or drink. The FDA states: Currently there is no evidence of food or packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.  IDFA is confident that dairy foods produced and processed in the United States are safe and wholesome and the system in place to ensure the safety and integrity of dairy foods is working as intended.

  • When An Employee Tests Positive: 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. Download the protocol 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.
  • FDA Q&A On Preparedness: The FDA has published a Q&A which addresses some questions regarding food and food workers. Please see: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-issues/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-frequently-asked-questions  
  • FDA Suspends Supplier Verification Onsite Audits: FDA has issued guidance to communicate the agency's intention to temporarily not enforce supplier verification onsite audit requirements for receiving facilities and importers under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in response to the global pandemic of COVID-19.        
  • FDA Postpones All Domestic Routine Surveillance Facility Inspections: On March 18, 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. The full FDA statement is here: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-focuses-safety-regulated-products-while-scaling-back-domestic
  • OSHA Guidance: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides information for workers and employers, including links to interim guidance and other resources, on preparing workplace for COVID-19: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf and https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/
  • EPA Cleaning Guidance: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides guidance on cleaning and disinfecting agents that can be used to sanitize work places of COVID-19: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2 
  • EPA Inspections and Jurisdiction: The EPA will exercise the enforcement discretion specified here for noncompliance covered by this temporary policy and resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, if regulated entities take the steps applicable to their situations, as set forth in this policy. For noncompliance that occurs during the period of time that this temporary policy is in effect, and that results from the COVID-19 pandemic, this policy will apply to such noncompliance in lieu of an otherwise applicable EPA enforcement response policy. Review the EPA policy memo.

Dairy foods produced and processed in the United States are some of the most highly regulated and safest foods available to consumers. For example, the milk in your glass was tested up to 17 different times before it reached you. Milk and dairy foods must undergo several safety and quality procedures, such as pasteurization, to make sure they are safe and wholesome for you to consume.

With recent food-borne illness outbreaks and questions about the transmission of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), people are concerned about the safety of their food now more than ever. FDA and other regulatory agencies establish processes and protocols that all food must go through to ensure that it is safe for consumers to eat. All milk and dairy products must undergo multiple safety, quality and sanitation tests and procedures on the farm, in transit and at the processing plant to ensure their safety. Preserving the quality and safety of milk begins at the farm and follows through to the refrigerator.

The U.S. government continues to monitor U.S. ports of entry, shipping channels, processing facilities, and the food supply to ensure the safety and integrity of U.S. food and beverages. At this time, there is no heightened concern for the safety of food produced and processed in the United States, including dairy foods. Moreover, the supply of food remains plentiful. The U.S. government, the WHO, as well as the governments of Canada, the EU, and others, recommend consumers adhere to standard, proper food safety practices when handling and preparing all foods. Please see FDA's statement: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-supply-chain-update


Transportation & Trucking

Update on Truck Weight Limits: The $2 trillion CARES Act, signed into law on March 26 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

Guidance to Truck Drivers Supporting Relief Efforts: To implement the President’s nationwide emergency declaration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) expanded its March 13, 2020 emergency regulatory relief declaration 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. FMCSA released the following Questions and Answers guidance to help companies understand the FMCSA Emergency Declaration of March 19: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/frequently-asked-questions-related-fmcsa-emergency-declaration-03192020

Self-Certification Form: 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.

On March 20, FDA said that any food company having problems moving food or getting food through areas that have curfews and restrictions because of the coronavirus, should contact the FEMA National Business Emergency Operations Center at NBEOC@fema.dhs.gov. This is a 24/7 operation and they can assist in directing your inquiry to the proper contact.

On March 24, 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. Read the joint statement on US-Canada Joint Initiative: Temporary Restriction of Travelers Crossing the US-Canada Land Border for Non-Essential Purposes.


Events & Conferences

The health and welfare of IDFA members and attendees of IDFA events is our most important consideration. IDFA is closely monitoring the potential impact on travel related to coronavirus (COVID-19) and will provide updates as necessary. At this time, the CDC and local and state public health officials have advised individuals to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. Additionally, many U.S. states and municipalities have declared states of emergency or stay-at-home orders, preventing travel and movement for anything other than essential purposes. 

On March 13, IDFA announced that we are postponing 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. IDFA is grateful for your understanding as it works to ensure your health and safety.

On April 1, IDFA announced that we are moving the Regulatory RoundUp event scheduled for June 9-10 at the Wink Hotel in Washington, DC, to a webinar event rather than an in-person event. IDFA will provide additional details for registration soon. IDFA is grateful for your understanding as it works to ensure your health and safety.

We encourage all travelers to use safe travel practices as shared by the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/faqs.html

For future IDFA-hosted events, IDFA is working with our hotels to increase cleaning of public areas including elevator buttons, railings, door handles, public bathrooms, etc., for our guests and conference attendees. Additionally, sanitizing and disinfecting products will be made available for hotel guests and conference attendee at IDFA-hosted events. 

IDFA will update guests and attendees of IDFA-hosted events about any disruptions in travel should they occur.


Travel Guidance & Restrictions

IDFA recommends that companies align with guidance from the WHO and CDC, as well as local governments, on travel restrictions and other guidance to help keep our people and our communities safe and healthy. In some cases, companies may decide to use tighter restrictions based on risks to the business and supply chains. Many companies are assessing or implementing contingency plans, including engaging backup suppliers/carriers where necessary, and IDFA encourages you take these steps.

Travel: Frequently Asked Questions by the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/faqs.html

The United States has limited non-essential travel to Canada.


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. Here are the letters we've signed to Members of Congress and the Administration related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

- - Please watch this space for updates. - -