IDFA’s Latest on COVID-19; IDFA Launches #ESSENTIAL Campaign

IDFA

Dear Dairy Community,
IDFA wants to take a moment to recognize and honor all of you for your work throughout the dairy industry to protect our food security. You are essential.

 To highlight and honor the workers throughout the dairy value chain, this week IDFA will begin a social media campaign called, #ESSENTIAL. The first posts from this campaign are below. We encourage you to support the campaign by liking, sharing and promoting IDFA’s content. We also encourage your companies to create your own #ESSENTIAL posts focused on your workers.

IDFA continues to track coronavirus (COVID-19) developments and its impact on the dairy industry and our economy. IDFA’s coronavirus resource page, www.idfa.org/coronavirus, as well as our email updates are available to everyone, members and non-members alike. With improved testing capabilities across the country, the number of confirmed U.S. cases continues to rise dramatically. IDFA has been staying close to federal officials, legislators, business leaders, and other trade associations to learn the latest and to advocate on behalf of our dairy industry.

Here is a list of the most recent resources offered at www.idfa.org/coronavirus:

  • Please remember to contact us at coronavirus@idfa.org with questions.
  • We encourage everyone to watch and share the video message from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to food and agricultural industry workers. You can find it here.
  • Download IDFA’s Q&A document for answers to questions about the safe production of food and the health of employees given the current environment where COVID-19 is present. The document provides recommendations on what to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19. Download the FAQs here.
  • IDFA has provided a form to self-certify food transportation and manufacturing employees as part of the nation's critical infrastructure. Print the form on official company letterhead (your own or that of your other service providers), print a copy, sign the document where indicated, and ask drivers and employees to keep these on-hand to provide to authorities should they stop vehicles or employees from carrying out their duties. Download the form here.
  • As more schools close, workers in essential or critical sectors must continue to perform their duties. Some states have begun to issue guidance and services to the working parents and caregivers of children. Under the Minnesota Governor’s Executive Order 20-02, free school age care for the children of emergency workers and others--including food industry workers--was outlined. IDFA anticipates other states will follow suit. See Minnesota's guidance here.

As a new week begins, IDFA’s advocacy, regulatory and communications functions are focused on the following issues:

  • Congress is very close to finalizing a third coronavirus funding package. This third funding package is expected to be largest yet in terms of price tag since it focusing on providing economic relief for workers, industries, and support services, among others. IDFA expects the Senate to release the new legislation soon, and for the Senate and then the House to vote on the measure in short order. Moreover, IDFA has learned about a fourth funding package and we are beginning to shape our priorities as that bill is discussed. IDFA has been staying in close contact with Senate leaders as these package come together to ensure dairy is prioritized. Thus far, we have learned the following about the most recent legislation, called the “phase three” package: The bill includes more than $26 billion for USDA agencies and programs, including $25 billion to support nutrition and meals programs such as Child Nutrition (school meals), SNAP, WIC and TEFAP.
  • Congress expected to include $50 billion in funding authority for USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), including a $30 billion replenishment of CCC funds and an additional $20 billion in borrowing authority for CCC to respond to COVID-19. The additional CCC funds are expected to support, in part, a new round of Market Facilitation Payments from USDA, which helps to offset weak exports.
  • We are requesting clearer guidance or recommendations from the FDA and CDC on procedures to protect workers and facilities when an employee tests positive for COVID-19.
  • We are working with USDA and the Congress to waive certain requirements under the WIC program, including stringent requirements for fluid milk purchases under the program. The waiver will allow WIC participants to purchase 2% milk.
  • We’re working with USDA, the White House, Feeding America, and with Congress, to ensure the necessary systems and resources are in place to continue moving fluid milk to schools for congregant feeding and meals; to expand options for milk and dairy in other federal feeding programs as well as benefits programs such as SNAP and TEFAP; and we want to ensure USDA is working closely with food banks and distribution centers to get adequate supplies of dairy foods to people in need.
  • IDFA has requested of FDA that the agency allow food service labeled foods to be sold at retail. This request is pending. IDFA will also request that FDA postpone implementation of the new nutrition facts label by six additional months. Currently, FDA is requiring the label to appear on all packaging by July 1, 2020.
  • IDFA is working with the SHIP Coalition and our key Capitol Hill allies to request a temporary federal waiver to laws limiting the weight of trucks using the interstate highway system. This would allow vital goods, including dairy products, to get where they are needed faster and more efficiently, providing prompter relief and contributing to the economic recovery.
  • Finally, we will continue to coordinate with the U.S. dairy industry across state and regional groups as well as international organizations to share best practices and disseminate information.

Sincerely,
Michael Dykes, D.V.M.
President & CEO
International Dairy Foods Association
Making a Difference for Dairy

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