Agriculture recognized as critical industry

The Trump administration this week named agriculture as a critical industry amid the coronavirus outbreak. This will allow businesses to continue operating as usual during the current and potential restrictions established to help control the spread of the virus.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued the declaration on Thursday, March 19.

The declaration extended the designation to the entire food and agricultural production system.

Agricultural groups, including Texas Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), were concerned about the potential for movement restrictions and labor issues.

AFBF, along with more than 40 groups, sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking the administration to consider the impacts of the restrictions on the food, feed and agricultural supply chain.

“As you consider additional steps to restrict movement to protect our nation from COVID-19, we ask your administration to be mindful of the food, feed and agricultural supply chain and workforce impacts on the ability of U.S. agriculture to meet the needs of consumers,” the groups wrote. “These include, but are certainly not limited to, impacts on accessibility of seed, fertilizer, crop protection products, agricultural labor, equipment, feed and ingredients for food-producing animals, modes of transportation, the availability of required U.S. government inspection services and daily movement of milk.”

The DHS announcement allows those in the food and agriculture supply chain to continue operating to meet the demand across the nation. Farmers, food processors and producers, distributors and retailers are essential to the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As we have heard from farmers and food companies, we have enough food,” U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson said. “The important part now is protecting and supporting the people that grow, raise, distribute and sell that food so supply can continue.”

The list of sectors and identified essential critical infrastructure workers come from diverse industries.

In addition to agriculture, other areas deemed as critical industries include healthcare and public health, emergency services, energy, water, nuclear reactors, materials and waste, transportation systems, dams, communications, information technology, government facilities, commercial facilities, critical manufacturing, financial, chemical and defense industrial base.