Pork industry issues guidance to maintain safe operations during COVID-19

The Iowa Pork Producers Association this week shared guidance, published on Successful Farming, about how farmers can deal with labor issues related to COVID-19 at their operations.

While some of the specific information is based on guidelines from the Iowa Department of Public Health, much of it is relevant to operations throughout the country.

Public health officials in Iowa recommend that all businesses cross-train employees, prioritize critical functions and consider where additional staff can be pulled from, if necessary. “It is most important for the agriculture industry to have flexible leave policies in place and make sure workers understand they need to stay home when they are ill,” the guidelines say.

The National Pork Producers Council this week issued a statement reiterating federal guidelines for people to protect themselves and those around them. These guidelines are especially important for agriculture industry members who work in processing facilities, where working from home isn’t an option, particularly given the high demand for meat right now among consumers.

“We are committed to maintaining the core infrastructure of America’s food supply: farms,” said NPPC president Howard “A.V.” Roth. “Pork producers and other farmers take seriously the special responsibility we hold for keeping people fed. Telecommuting is not an option for us; we are reporting for work as always while taking all necessary precautions to protect our health and the health of those we work with.”

At the top of the guidelines: Listen to directions from local and state authorities. Many cities and states have specific “social distancing” guidelines in place meant to stem the spread of the virus.