Mar 18, 2020Pennsylvania officially deems agriculture ‘essential business’ during coronavirus outbreak
As the growing number of industries limited or shut down amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Pennsylvania issued an official statement confirming that agriculture is indeed “essential business.”
On March 18, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture issued guidance for the agriculture industry on essential businesses and how those businesses can mitigate against COVID-19 while maintaining essential operations to ensure access to food.
Gov. Tom Wolf provided an update March 17 related to Pennsylvania’s statewide mitigation efforts and noted that food processing, agriculture, feed mills and grocery stores are essential services.
“As the commonwealth takes steps to mitigate against COVID-19 and continues to strive for a healthy Pennsylvania for all, businesses across the state have been asked to consider if they’re essential or not,” said Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding. “Agriculture’s role is unquestionable: access to food is a right; we need local agriculture now more than ever.”
Essential businesses for a safe and accessible food supply include farms, greenhouses and vegetable plants, orchards, pest management services, feed mills and ag supply businesses, agriculture equipment sales and services, animal feed and supply distribution network, transportation system from farm to retail, food and meat processors and manufacturers, veterinary services and supplies, distribution and transportation system from processors and manufacturers to retailers, retailers to include grocery stores and farmers markets, grocery delivery services, laboratories, and inspectors that ensure food safety.
The Wolf Administration encourages these operations, especially food production and distribution facilities, to continue operations and issued guidance for essential operations to continue with procedures that will protect both employees and the public from COVID-19.
The department issued the following voluntary guidance and recommendations for businesses throughout the food supply chain:
- Essential Agricultural Businesses
- Farms and On-Farm Deliveries
- Farmers Markets and On-Farm Markets
- Food Processors and Manufacturers
- Dairy Guidance
“We encourage all producers to actively practice this guidance to ensure the security of our food supply,” Redding said. “During these uncertain times, all of Pennsylvania is counting on the industry to continue to provide for our most basic needs.”
For information as it relates to agriculture during COVID-19 mitigation in Pennsylvania visit agriculture.pa.gov/COVID. For the most accurate, timely information related to Health in Pennsylvania, visit on.pa.gov/coronavirus.