Keeping the Food Supply Chain Strong During COVID-19 Response
By Secretary Joe Bartenfelder
As we wrap up National Agriculture Week, I think it is safe to say that this year’s celebration has looked a lot different than it has in years past. I want to thank each and every one of you for all that you have been doing, and will continue to do, to make sure that our food supply chain remains strong throughout these uncertain times.
Earlier this week, Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses as part of a continued effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. As the state of Maryland continues its unprecedented response to this pandemic, the Maryland Department of Agriculture is emphasizing the need for essential businesses involved in the state’s food supply chain to continue production. Reliable access to food is a human right and it is critical that our food supply chain maintain operations throughout this state of emergency.
Any business involved in food distribution, production, processing, sales and supply is considered essential, including, but not limited to: farms; farmers markets; food manufacturing and processing; companies that manufacture, maintain and sell agricultural equipment; companies that manufacture — or support the manufacturing — of paper products; breweries, wineries and distilleries; veterinary practices; and many others.
We are asking these essential businesses to remain open and operational — normally and safely — until or unless directed otherwise. Develop procedures for safe operation of your facility or farm and post those procedures for the benefit of your employees and the broader public. While non-essential businesses have been ordered to suspend operations, all other businesses — especially food-related businesses — are encouraged to continue operating within the parameters and protocols (no large gatherings, social distancing, etc.) recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Maryland Department of Health.
We understand that there are a number of challenges facing businesses right now. Please keep the Maryland Department of Agriculture informed of any regulatory or statutory challenge or hurdle that may impede production, processing or sales so we can address it accordingly and promptly.
MDA will continue to post any updates on Facebook, Twitter and the MDA website. If you have specific questions about your business, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We are in uncharted territory that may require some creativity and flexibility, but that is nothing new for Maryland farmers and growers. I am confident that our department, the agriculture community and allied industries will continue working together to overcome any obstacles we may face as we head toward planting season.
On behalf of the Hogan-Rutherford administration, we appreciate your support and patience as we continue to navigate this constantly evolving situation with as few disruptions as possible to food production and processing. Thank you for all that you do to ensure that Marylanders continue to have access to a safe, reliable food source.