April 10, 2020
The MWFPA COVID-19 Update is underwritten in part by Bug Blocker Doors & Screens
The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation with ramifications for the economy, interstate commerce and the Midwest's food manufacturing industry.

MWFPA continues to closely monitor evolving information about the coronavirus/COVID-19 and are providing the following information as a supplement to our regular News Bulletin for your use.

MWFPA has also created a resource page to assist food manufacturers and supply chain partners in mitigating the negative impacts of the coronavirus COVID-19. We will continue to keep our members updated on any new developments. Click here to access MWFPA's COVID-19 resource page.
The MWFPA COVID-19 Update is underwritten in part by Alliant Energy
CDC Guidance: Some Essential Workers Exposed To Coronavirus Can Return To Work

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new coronavirus guidance Wednesday saying some essential workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 but are not showing symptoms can return to work.

Each worker would need to take his or her temperature twice a day for signs of a fever and wear a face mask at work and out in public to prevent the spread of the virus, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, said at Wednesday’s White House coronavirus briefing.
MN Ag Department Continues Inspection Services During Pandemic

Per AgriGrowth , Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Commissioner Thom Petersen announced MDA is continuing inspection services during Governor Walz’s Stay-at-Home Executive Order and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

This includes inspections of dairy, meat, and food manufacturing facilities, retail food outlets, pesticide and fertilizer operations, and seed, grain, and nursery companies. He also stated his agency has created and compiled information on the MDA website related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, he reported that the Minnesota Department of Health has also prepared a document on how to prepare for sick agriculture workers and COVID-19 .
MN Stay-At-Home Order Extended Until May 4

On April 8 Minnesota’s stay-at-home order was been extended until May 4.

The order initially was set to expire on April 10 but, citing modeling that shows COVID-19 cases could max out beds in the coming weeks, Gov. Walz extended the order with hopes to slow the coronavirus’ spread and flatten the curve in cases.

His latest order expands the list of businesses deemed “essential” by the state. Walz said he’ll work with state leaders to “develop short-term plans to help more businesses reopen.”

Businesses can qualify for exemptions if they can operate while still abiding by social distancing protocols, he said.

The governor’s latest executive order expands the list of essential businesses based on updated guidance from the federal government. Now, lawncare and landscapers are permitted to continue working, along with garden centers and nurseries, so long as they follow the state’s social distancing guidelines.
MN Executive Orders Continue To Lift Truck Weight Limits, Hours of Service For Commercial Vehicles

Last week, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed Emergency Executive Order 20-27 , providing relief from certain hours of service requirements for drivers and motor carriers transporting livestock feed or fertilizer to assist emergency relief efforts in response to COVID-19.

Drivers or carriers operating under the order are still subject to daily driving limits, and the order does not provide any relief from size or weight limits. This order followed Emergency Executive Order 20-24  signed earlier in the week providing exemptions from certain weight limits (including spring load restrictions) and the hours of service requirements for vehicles and drivers transporting livestock in response to the COVID-19 emergency relief efforts.

A permit is not needed, but there are specific limitations that still apply, such as gross vehicle weight (90,000 lbs.), axle limits and bridge postings. Both emergency executive orders will remain in effect for thirty days or until direct assistance has ended.

AgriGrowth contriubted to this news item.
T rump Administration Exploring Coronavirus Testing for U.S. Food Plant Workers

As published in the Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration is weighing a plan to provide coronavirus tests and other solutions to U.S. food-processing plants, as a way to soothe workers' fears and keep the country's food system functioning through the pandemic.
The federal Covid-19 task force headed by Vice President Mike Pence this week discussed the prospect with meatpackers and food producers, according to people involved in the talks. The task force is looking to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to work out details of what such a plan could look like, at the agency's discretion, an administration official said. A USDA spokeswoman had no comment on details of the potential plan. But a Trump administration official confirmed the talks."They are working on a solution with the plants that not only makes the plants happy but the workers comfortable to come in," the official said. Asked if tests are part of the considerations, the official said, "100%."
Food producers are struggling as a rising number of processing-plant employees contract the coronavirus, and more stay home rather than risk catching it in the close quarters that are typical in plants. Over the past week meat processors JBS USA Holdings Inc., Tyson Foods Inc., Cargill Inc. and Smithfield Foods temporarily closed plants in Pennsylvania, Iowa and South Dakota after employees came down with Covid-19 or displayed symptoms. Other plants have slowed processing operations.
Those shutdowns and slowdowns are seeding fears of a broader disruption hitting the U.S. food industry, after shoppers in recent weeks cleared out staples from supermarkets in anticipation of weeks or months of eating at home. Domestic supplies of meat and other food commodities have been high heading into the pandemic.
The U.S. government has called on major food processors to continue operating. Mr. Pence this week spoke to executives of U.S. meat and grain companies including Tyson and Hormel Foods Corp., he said at a briefing Tuesday.Mr. Pence said in the briefing that food-industry workers are vital as the U.S. navigates the pandemic: "We need you to continue, as a part of what we call our critical infrastructure, to show up and do your job and know that we're going to continue to work tirelessly in working with all of your companies to make sure that that workplace is safe."
Being able to quickly test employees for the coronavirus, such as with Abbott Laboratories' new 15-minute test debuted last week, would help identify positive cases and assure other workers' safety, a meat industry official said. Dozens of meat-plant workers across the country have been confirmed to have contracted Covid-19, including two dozen employees of a Tyson pork plant in Iowa, the company has said, and more than 80 workers at a Smithfield Foods pork plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., according to state health officials.

Kim Cordova, president of a United Food and Commercial Workers union representing workers at a JBS beef plant in Greeley, Colo., estimated around 50 cases among plant employees there. One worker died this week after being hospitalized due to the virus, she said. A spokesman for JBS, which has increased some safety and sanitation practices, had no immediate comment.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which represents meatpacking workers, this week said that two Tyson employees at a Georgia plant had died after contracting the coronavirus. A Tyson spokesman said the company is working to keep its employees safe, separating processing-line workers with barriers, offering masks and installing infrared temperature scanners. Smithfield on Thursday said it would close its Sioux Falls plant for three days for extra cleaning, but Chief Executive Kenneth Sullivan said in a statement that the company, the largest U.S. pork processor, needed to keep running its farms and plants. "People need to eat," he said.
To keep workers coming in, some food processors have temporarily boosted pay, while staggering shift start times and breaks so that large numbers of employees aren't gathering close together. Some plants have handed out masks, and erected barriers between each worker's spot on processing lines.Some workers have walked off the job and called on companies to do more or shut down plants temporarily to reduce the risk to workers.
As agricultural labor concerns mount, the State Department last month eased requirements on seasonal foreign-worker visas, after the agriculture industry warned that harvests could be disrupted if coronavirus-related curbs on immigration reduced the number of available workers.
WI Developing Emergency Rule For Migrant Labor And Coronavirus
The WI Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has proposed an emergency rule to address migrant labor concerns related to COVID-19.

MWFPA is working to resolve some challenging language within the draft emergency order which has some unworkable transportation and housing provisions for employers.

The MWFPA Human Resources Committee will be meeting via teleconference on April 21, 2020 and will hear from DWD migrant labor inspector, Pedro Albiter, who will be discussing these matters and more during the call.
WI Ag Department Offers Temporary Pesticide Applicator Certification
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has a new online exam available for individuals to become temporarily certified until October 31 as a commercial pesticide applicator.

A news release is available at https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/News_Media/20200402PesticideCertOnline.aspx . For more information, contact DATCP’s Lori Bowman at (608) 224-4550 or lori.bowman@wisconsin.gov .

University of Wisconsin Diagnostic Labs Adjust, Suspend Services
Some of the services offered by the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s diagnostic laboratories have been temporarily adjusted or suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Details are below.
UW Insect Diagnostic Lab
Open for insect/arthropod identification services for residents of Wisconsin. Digital photos are highly encouraged. Physical samples are still being accepted by mail only, but may experience delays. For information and updates, visit go.wisc.edu/insectlab .
UW Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic
Until further notice, the PDDC will not be accepting any physical samples for diagnosis. Customers are welcome to continue submitting questions and/or digital photos to the PDDC by emailing pddc@wisc.edu . For information and updates, visit go.wisc.edu/pddc .
Brian Elliott | Midwest Food Products Association | Ph: (608) 255-9946 | Fax: (608) 255-9838
Web: www.mwfpa.org