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Published in Food/Agribusiness

Food and ag workers considered ‘essential’ under Whitmer’s stay-home order

BY Monday, March 23, 2020 02:02pm

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Michigan’s food and agriculture industries and related workers are considered as “essential critical infrastructure” to ensure continued food security across the state under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-home executive order. 

Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski COURTESY PHOTO

The executive order issued today directs all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life. The order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday and is currently scheduled to run through April 13, 2020.

Whitmer’s inclusion of critical infrastructure workers as defined by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), including agriculture designations, is essential to Michigan consumers, said Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski.

“As Gov. Whitmer continues to make informed decisions to implement additional necessary steps to mitigate COVID-19 exposure for our citizens, we want to reaffirm the commitment of the food and agriculture sector to continue providing consumers a safe and reliable supply of products,” Bednarski said in a statement.

According to Bednarski, critical infrastructure for maintaining a steady food supply extends far beyond the farm level, noting that it also includes those in the supply chain and food distribution centers, processors, as well as grocery and farm market retail outlets for consumers. Equally important is the movement of input supplies to farmers as they head into the spring planting, Bednarski said. 

“We are entering a decisive moment as spring arrives — any interruptions now would have long-lasting and dire consequences for the entire year and perhaps beyond,” Bednarski said. “It’s imperative that the food and agriculture associated industries continue operations while exhibiting an abundance of caution and adhering to CDC standards for employers and employees.”

According to Whitmer, Monday’s order was based on a growing caseload of COVID-19 patients who are already overwhelming many Michigan emergency rooms, with 1,232 confirmed cases in the state, and 15 deaths as of Monday morning.

“In just 13 days, we’ve gone from zero to over 1,000 COVID-19 cases,” Whitmer said. “This is an unprecedented crisis that requires all of us working together to protect our families and our communities.”

In an effort to reduce panic, Whitmer said the state’s food supply is stable. 

“Your grocery stores will be open,” she said. “I have checked on our whole supply chain for food, and it will be accessible.”

Read 4837 times Last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020 14:10