Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Wednesday, March 18, 2020

 

COVID-19 Update - Working Together

 

To: ADPI Members, 
 

The White House has 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 White House 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."  
 

Later in the afternoon, in a statement to the industry from Dr. Mindy Brashears, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, and Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, USDA said, "It's more important than ever that we assure the American public that government and industry will take all steps necessary to ensure continued access to safe and wholesome USDA-inspected products. … As we come together as a country to address this public health threat, know that USDA remains committed to working closely with industry to fulfill our mission of ensuring the safety of the U.S. food supply and protecting agricultural health."
 

Further, in various communications, the Department of Homeland Security also clearly recognizes 16 critical infrastructure sectors “whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof,” according to a DHS fact sheet on Critical Infrastructure Sectors. From these public communications, it is clear that the food industry, including our dairy industry, is one of the nation’s critical infrastructure industries, which ensures certain safeguards for the food industry and its workforce from disruptions related to federal and state efforts to protect public health during the COVID-19 response.  
 

As the White House document states, the food industry “also has a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule,” which underscores the need for our industry to continue to closely collaborate with federal and state officials to remove potential bottlenecks for our workforce, to our supply chains, to our inputs stream, and our transportation networks, among others.
 

Based on critical lessons learned from other countries and regions, including dairy industry partners in the EU and Canada, it is imperative that our federal government now begin to lay out a strategy for ensuring the continued operation of the critical infrastructure industries. After speaking with the EU and Canada about impacts to their dairy industries, we must prioritize the safety and availability of our workforce, ensuring transportation routes remain open, and providing a viable market or market alternatives for our nation’s dairy products.  
 

ADPI is collaborating with many other food industry trade associations and groups related to bringing the following issues and concerns forward for action and consideration by the Administration: 

1. Workforce: Ensure workforce continue to have access to food production and distribution facilities

2. Services: Continuity of waste management services, energy and utilities services, and telecommunications and internet, etc.

3. Transportation: For trucking and rail service, ensure all transportation routes are unimpeded for any reason; re: ports, ensure ports remain open and functional for both inbound and outbound goods; for all modes of transportation, provide access to refrigerated containers, trailers, pallets and logistical tools.

4. Borders: Ensure border inspection facilities prioritize the entry of foodstuffs and have processes in place to enable drivers and their vehicles expedited screening and entry.

5. Manufacturing: Ensure our food and beverage production facilities have access to inputs; articulate a plan to standardize safety of operations in production facilities; confirm the government will have enough inspectors and related officials who are essential to the production and/or distribution of food, beverage and ingredients. 

Our industry is amid extraordinary circumstances which require extraordinary responses. We know from observing other countries managing COVID-19 responses that things most likely will get worse before they get better, and it is critically important that the US Federal Government develops and actions a strategy and identifies the coordinated tactics for ensuring the continued operation of the nation’s critical industries, including food and agriculture and dairy therein.  
 

Our dairy industry is critical to our food security, and ADPI along with other industry groups including IDFA, NMPF, DMI/USDEC and others, stand ready to do our part to continue to collaborate to ensure food security. We are all appreciative of your work to safeguard dairy from significant supply chain disruptions, to the best of your ability, in the foreseeable future. 
 

Please remember………. Health and Safety First! 

 

 

Blake Anderson
President & CEO
American Dairy Products Institute