Thanks to quick work by the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and other agricultural and food organizations, the grain and feed industries on March 19 were designated by the federal government as part of the “critical infrastructure” that must remain in operation while much of the rest of the economy is shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Randy Gordon, NGFA president and CEO, explained some of the details of what this means for grain and feed facilities during a webinar April 2 sponsored by the association and Grain Journal magazine.
In an updated version of the designation on March 28, the federal government advised state and local public health authorities that the food and agriculture industries have a critical responsibility to remain in operation through the pandemic.
While this is only advisory, Gordon explained, most state governments are going along with this.
Importantly, the March 28 designation covers grain and oilseed handling, processing, and distribution facilities, including grain elevators and feed mills.
It also includes support facilities such as farm supply stores, farm equipment dealers, and grain and grain product export terminals.
These include facilities located in states where residents are ordered to remain home under shelter-in-place orders, which now cover most of the United States.
Letters of Access
In reaction to this, the NGFA has developed a “letter of access” that workers in grain handling Industries can use to move freely to access their workplaces and other places required as part of their business operations.
The letter has the approval of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Gordon said.
A sample is available on the NGFA website, www.ngfa.org.
In the meantime, NGFA continues to work with the appropriate government agencies to ensure workers in the grain and feed industries have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies to allow them to perform their jobs safely.
The association also is working to make COVID-19 testing available to industry workers, after health care workers and at-risk populations.