General Background

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a global health emergency. On March 11, WHO declared the virus a global pandemic. On March 13, 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. 

The virus, known as coronavirus or COVID-19, was first identified in January in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Confirmed cases are concentrated in China but have spread throughout Asia, into Europe, North America, and other regions. All continents except Antarctica have been affected.

We know that our members are managing preparedness within their companies and organizations to the best of their ability. As you address concerns related to workforce, supply chains, travel, and other issues, IDFA wants you to have reliable information, and has compiled the information below as a service to the dairy industry.

Due to the dynamic nature of information related to Coronavirus (COVID-19), IDFA has posted the most recent updates at the top of this page. Updates will also be included under the relevant sections below.

For questions, please contact coronavirus@idfa.org.

Jump to:

Latest Updates

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.
  • Questions about the SBA Paycheck Protection Program? Please see this FAQ from the SBA.
  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act gives USDA authority to allow states to request a waiver for WIC's supplemental food substitutions requirements. These waivers allow for certain food package substitutions, as requested by the State or ITO, as justified based upon the issue of low stock as a result of increased customer demand during COVID-19. 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.

April 1, 2020

  • 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.
  • Idaho Issues Stay-Home Order: This afternoon, Idaho’s Governor issued a statewide order asking all residents to “stay at home", effective immediately and to remain in effect for at least 21 days. "Employers that do not provide essential services as defined in order must take all steps necessary for employees to work remotely from home. Grocery stores, medical facilities, and other essential businesses as defined in the order will remain open." Read the Governor's press release here: https://boisedev.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/IdahoAGCIDASSOC_1695_FINAL-Governor-Little-issues-statewide-stay-home-order-signs-extreme-emergency-declaration-1.pdf
  • 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. 

March 17, 2020

March 16, 2020

  • The White House issued The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America - 15 Days to Slow the Spreadwith 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.

March 14, 2020

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.

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 1 million cases worldwide, including more than 270,000 cases and 7,000 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.

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.

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 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.

Separately, IDFA has developed a more general 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. Download the FAQs here.

General Guidance on Human Resources, Wages & Benefits

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Labeling & Nutrition Resources & Guidance

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Food Safety, Safe Operations & Inspections

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.

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

FMCSA Update: 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.

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

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. - -