Across the country, Americans are feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, schools have closed, offices have shut down, and restaurants have shuttered or shifted to carry-out and delivery only.
America’s food and agriculture industries are working overtime to supply safe, high-quality food ingredients and products to millions of Americans. We at CRA, in coordination with our member companies, are taking extra steps to keep employees — and consumers — safe and healthy.
At the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, states began implementing stay-at-home orders that could have limited the ability of necessary workers in the food and agriculture industry to get to work. CRA joined the Consumer Brands Association, along with a number of leading groups representing the food, beverage, and consumer goods industries, in asking the Department of Homeland Security to consider the food supply chain as critical infrastructure.
In response, DHS designated the food and agriculture industries as critical infrastructure and their employees as essential. This provided guidance to local, state, and federal officials to ensure the strength of our country’s food supply chain, removing any potential confusion or doubt.
CRA worked closely with the Critical Infrastructure Supply Chain Council (CISCC) to help state and local officials adopt the DHS guidance and reduce disruptions in the food and agriculture supply chain, including through outreach to key states in the Midwest.
CRA has been working with partners to develop industry protocols for social distancing, screening, isolation, and containment. Our member companies have also taken proactive steps to ensure the safety of their employees.
For example, Roquette has increased restrictions in the access to their sites, including temperature controls; travel bans; remote work whenever possible; and personal protection, hygiene, and social distance practices to minimize the risk of the virus spreading. Similarly, Tate & Lyle has taken wide-ranging precautions in their operations to keep employees safe, including stopping all non-essential travel, supporting remote working, postponing non-essential visits to work sites, and frequently sharing the latest hygiene advice from public health authorities.
CRA has been on calls with the White House Task Force, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other leading federal agencies to gather information concerning a range of issues stemming from the COVID-19 crisis, including food safety and security, and sharing this information with our industry. In addition, CRA has been circulating to members key guidance documents from industry working groups, the federal government, and multilateral institutions related to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on food and agriculture, food security, food access, and relationship between the virus and animals.
In this time of crisis and uncertainty, it’s important that the American people know that their food supply chain is safe and resilient. We have always worked to ensure a sustained supply chain feeds American families every day, and in these uncertain times, the food and agriculture industries are working overtime to keep food access plentiful. We’ve been using social media and working with partner organizations to spread the word that the American food supply is safe and steady.
Representing the entirety of America’s corn refining industry is an honor every day, but we’re particularly thankful to be part of the hardworking food and agriculture community during this critical time. Thank you to the workers and their families battling to keep the country safe and food on the table.