Mar 24, 2020, 09:46 AM
March 24, 2020
The Honorable Gov. Eric Holcomb,
As President of Indiana Farm Bureau, I am grateful every day for the dedication you have displayed for Indiana agriculture and our rural communities. Yesterday was no exception.
Your leadership in protecting Indiana’s citizens during this unprecedented time of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been informed, measured and reassuring. That was apparent in your remarks yesterday as you announced Executive Orders EO 20-08 through EO 20-11. As needed, those executive orders will impact everyday life and the workplace.
I appreciate that EO 20-08 states the food and agriculture industry is an essential critical infrastructure workforce of the economy as outlined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its March 19, 2020 MEMORANDUM ON IDENTIFICATION OF ESSENTIAL CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE WORKERS DURING COVID-19 RESPONSE.
As the memorandum’s list details, there are many critical pieces to Indiana’s agriculture and food production infrastructure that also includes supply chain and food distribution centers. This infrastructure includes, but is not limited to, those taking care of livestock and poultry, those producing and processing feed for livestock, poultry, aquaculture, equine, meat, eggs and dairy, agricultural supply infrastructure (including fuel, seed, crop protectants, fertilizer, equipment & parts services, veterinary services, etc.), planting and harvesting of crops, greenhouse and nursery production, fruits and vegetables, forestry, all associated marketing and processing channels, and transport between all of these critical supply points.
Farm Bureau members appreciate that EO 20-08 calls for broad interpretation in defining essential infrastructure in the agriculture and food sector. It is imperative that the food and agriculture associated industries continue operating while recognizing that they must also exhibit an abundance of caution and adhere to CDC standards for employers and employees.
Along with other industries, farmers and partners across the food and agriculture industry will need ongoing clarifications about trucking and other transportation issues. INDOT will play a critical role on these ongoing clarifications for exempt activities. I look forward to providing additional information to INDOT as they work toward implementation.
Clarification may be necessary for farm markets as qualified retail centers for citizens to obtain fresh farm products. This clarification is even more essential as consumers seek alternatives for basic grocery supplies to replace meals formally consumed away from home.
Livestock, dairy and poultry farmers are working every day to provide for families here and around the U.S. and world. Spring planting decisions are upon us. The planting season that Hoosier farmers are about to enter is critical to a successful harvest. What farmers’ plant now will be a significant part of what is used to fill our grocery shelves in the future. The recent examples of empty shelves in the stores have made us all realize we cannot take an abundant food supply for granted.
I realize the pandemic is evolving every day, but providing guidance to those in Indiana’s agricultural sector will be welcome and eliminate some unknowns and some worry. I value our partnership with Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and Director Bruce Kettler and will continue to work with them for the good of Indiana’s citizens and farming community.
Thank you for your consideration and concern as we work together during these uncertain times.
With highest regards,
Randy Kron, President
Indiana Farm Bureau