Volume 20 | Issue 7
COVID-19 Resources
O ther helpful resources:
Agriculture; Food supply chain named "critical" industries
On March 16 th , the President issued updated Coronavirus Guidance for America, naming the food supply chain as part of the critical infrastructure needed to maintain healthy, safety and national security. This guidance states that:

“If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”   

Workers at every level of the food supply chain are listed as critical: farmers, feed mill employees, food manufacturing plant workers, grocery store workers and more are all included in the guidance.

From NCDA&CS

As the state deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler applauds the guidance Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued in reiterating Food and Agriculture as being critical infrastructure industries to national security.

“Food is one of the most essential elements to survival and Homeland Security understands that. Keeping our nation’s food production and distribution systems operational even as we deal with this pandemic is critical to ensuring our food supply and our national security,” Troxler said. “I will continue to work with Gov. Cooper, state and national leaders to ensure agriculture and agribusiness continues to do its part to keep food safe, animals protected and businesses open.” Read entire NCDA&CS News Release
Secretary Sonny Perdue Salutes the Heroes
in the US Food Supply Chain
Click on the image to go to the video.
Webinar: COVID-19 and U.S. Pork Exports
The National Pork Board will host a free 30-minute webinar on Tuesday, March 24 at 2:30 p.m. EST related to COVID-19 and the impact on U.S. Pork exports. Norman Bessac, vice president of international marketing for the Pork Checkoff, will be joined by Jesse Austin, vice president of marketing for the U.S. Meat Export Federation. They will discuss the current situation in key export markets, such as those in Asia, and share insights into what producers can expect long term. 

The National Pork Producers Council also will have experts on the line to share how they are addressing industry concerns related to international trade.

Producers are invited to participate, register in advance by clicking this link.  
NPPC renews call for labor solutions for pork production continuity
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 18, 2020 – The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) renewed its call for government help to prevent a severe labor shortage from becoming a crisis. The decision by the U.S. Department of State to suspend visa processing in Mexico threatens to worsen the labor shortage in the pork industry and across U.S. agriculture. Mexico is a very important source of labor for U.S. hog farmers and packing plants.   
"I want to underscore that our farms and plants are not in crisis today," said NPPC President Howard "A.V." Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. "Farmers are the foundation and heart of the food supply system. Hog farmers and others in the pork industry are doing their part to ensure American kitchens are well-stocked. But we are very concerned about the recent State Department announcement regarding consulates in Mexico and the implications for our operations."
 
The pork industry, a farm sector that operates year-round, uses the H-2A visa program for specialized work, but cannot use the program for most labor needs because of its seasonal limitation. Hog farmers are major users of the TN visa program, which taps labor from Mexico.
 
In addition to workforce concerns, NPPC said U.S. pork producers need additional federal support, including:
  • Clarity from the U.S. Department of Transportation that farms are part of the critical domestic infrastructure needed to produce the food that feeds America and the world. This clear designation ensures the uninterrupted supply of commercial feed and other production inputs to farms, as well as the transport of livestock from farm to market. Hog farmers also have concerns about the potential shortage of standard supplies such as boot covers, coveralls and disinfectants needed to maintain high standards of biosecurity, animal care and food safety.
  • Provisions in the pending congressional relief package to provide financial support for childcare for farm and plant workers. 
 
Roth added, "U.S. hog farmers are committed to maintaining the continuity of the food supply and we stand with the administration in its response to the COVID-19 challenge. The pork supply chain is operating, but now is the time to get ahead of looming challenges and ensure federal and state policies support farmers and the critical role they play in meeting the nutritional needs of the nation."
Letter to the editor - Friday's News & Observer
LEARN FROM FARMERS
As Americans deal with the spread of COVID-19, they can learn a lot from the example set by our nation’s farmers.
For years, livestock farmers in North Carolina and beyond have been following strict bio-security measures to protect the health of our animals and preserve our livelihoods. We restrict visitors to our farms, wear protective clothing, disinfect footwear, meticulously clean equipment, continuously wash our hands, and limit travel when sick.
As a hog farmer, I know we’re often criticized for controlling access to our farms. Some of us put up “no trespassing” signs. People accuse us of “hiding something.” In reality, we’re simply taking the prudent steps all Americans are now being asked to take. I’m confident these actions can keep our communities safe.
Are we being a bit too drastic in our response to COVID-19? My heart wants to think so, but my knowledge of how an outbreak in animals can spread tells me maybe not.
Morris Murphy, Albertson
During this time of great uncertainty, please connect with @NCPork on our social channels and help spread the message about using pork to stretch your family food dollar!
General Permit clarifications from DEQ:
Annual report clarification:
The NC Pork Council asked for clarification regarding whether or not the annual report would be required for 2019 since the permit was only in effect for the last three months. This is the response: "...Regarding the request for clarification for Permit Condition III.18 of the 2019 Swine Waste Management System General Permit: The annual report should cover the enter calendar year for 2019. DEQ will be notifiying the permittees that due to the COVID-19 virus and associated disruptions, the agency will accept an annual report for 2019 under Permit Condition III.18 for a covered facility as timely if the report is received by June 1, 2020."  See official letter

Waste Analysis Sample waiver due to COVID-19:
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services requested a temporary waiver of the monitoring and reporting requirement for permitted animal waste systems due to the threat of COVID-19 exposure to laboratory workers. DEQ granted a waiver requirement until June 1, 2020. Between now and June 1, you have 90 days instead of 60 to submit a representative waste analysis sample.
Recent industry awards
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