MSC prepares to store cargoes at transhipment hubs
Supply ex-China is beginning to resume. But with demand falling and supply chains under pressure, containers will be held in transit
MEDITERRANEAN Shipping Co is responding to falling demand and congested supply chains by offering a ‘suspension of transit’ service to customers exporting from China.
Important Coronavirus Reference Sites
ADVISORY MEMORANDUM ON IDENTIFICATION OF ESSENTIAL CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE WORKERS DURING COVID-19 RESPONSE
As the Nation comes together to slow the spread of COVID-19, on March 16th the President issued updated Coronavirus Guidance for America that highlighted the importance of the critical infrastructure workforce.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) executes the Secretary of Homeland Security’s authorities to secure critical infrastructure. Consistent with these authorities, CISA has developed, in collaboration with other federal agencies, State and local governments, and the private sector, an “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” advisory list. This list is intended to help State, local, tribal and territorial officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. Decisions informed by this list should also take into consideration additional public health considerations based on the specific COVID-19-related concerns of particular jurisdictions.
This list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard. Additionally, this advisory list is not intended to be the exclusive list of critical infrastructure sectors, workers, and functions that should continue during the COVID-19 response across all jurisdictions. Individual jurisdictions should add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion.
The advisorylist identifies workers who conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continued critical infrastructure viability, including staffing operations centers, maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure, operating call centers, working construction, and performing operational functions, among others. It also includes workers who support crucial supply chains and enable functions for critical infrastructure. The industries they support represent, but are not limited to, medical and healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, water and wastewater, law enforcement,
and public works.
State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are responsible for implementing and executing response activities, including decisions about access and reentry, in their communities, while the Federal Government is in a supporting role. Officials should use their own judgment in issuing implementation directives and guidance. Similarly, while adhering to relevant public health guidance, critical infrastructure owners and operators are expected to use their own judgement on issues of the prioritization of business processes and workforce allocation to best ensure continuity of the essential goods and services they support. All decisions should appropriately balance public safety, the health and safety of the workforce, and the continued delivery of essential critical infrastructure services and functions. While this advisory list is meant to help public officials and employers identify essential work functions, it allows for the reality that some workers engaged in activity determined to be essential may be unable to perform those functions because of health-related concerns.
CISA will continue to work with our partners in the critical infrastructure community to update this advisory list if necessary as the Nation’s response to COVID-19 evolves.
Should you have questions about this list, please contact CISA at CISA.CAT@cisa.dhs.gov.
United Fresh Message
March 27, 2020
5:45 pm EDT/2:45 pm PDT
Dear produce industry member,
Since this crisis began, the United Fresh Board of Directors and I have pushed our association to drive two priorities on behalf of our members.
First, we’ve had to do everything possible to support our industry in keeping the fresh produce supply chain moving to consumers. Despite the effective shutdown of the foodservice sector, we have to continue feeding America. The partnerships and cooperation across our industry to achieve that goal are inspiring. Here are a few of the steps our association and our food partners have taken to keep our supply chain open.
Emergency streamlining of H2A guestworker visas to assure ag workers can harvest the crops.
DHS designation of the food supply chain as part of essential public health infrastructure, with constant work at state and local levels to overcome barriers. Efforts have helped keep open food chain facilities from ports to truck stops to grocery stores.
Industry-wide certification document for food workers to demonstrate that they are part of the essential workforce.
Industry-wide protocol approved by FDA and CDC for how companies should handle positive cases with food workers.
Industry-wide guidance on social distancing for food production, employee health screening, and approaches to conserve personal protective equipment and sanitation materials.
Partnership with FMI and NGA to connect retailers with foodservice distributors with available capacity to deliver produce and share perishable logistics.
FDA approval to allow packages labeled for foodservice to be redirected to retail.
USDA streamlined regulations for school meals from remote feeding sites, WIC and SNAP to keep people fed.
Coordination with DHS to secure continued food industry access to sanitation materials, gloves.
You can learn more about all of these issues on the United Fresh website.
Our second and equal priority has been to drive financial relief for those companies that have been devastated by this crisis and face continuing losses. It’s critical that the House has now joined with the Senate to pass the CARES Act, providing more than $2 trillion to mitigate the crisis in our economy. We expect the President to sign the bill shortly.
Our work with Congress and USDA led to a specific carve-out for agriculture, with language supporting financial relief for the fruit and vegetable sector. There are numerous provisions in the bill that offer support to different types of companies. Our team has provided a summary of the legislation and other tools here and here to help members tap into these programs as soon as possible.
Financial relief from USDA for our produce supply chain losses will be part of our eventual solution; we’re engaged with USDA and Congressional leaders to shape a support program that provides maximum value to all affected parties in our supply chain. Our initial request to USDA can be found here.
I wish we could tell you today how your company will be able use all these new programs. It’s going to take some time for government to implement those details. But I can tell you help is on the way, and food will win!
Let me conclude with this – I met online with our Executive Committee and senior association staff this afternoon, and we ended our meeting with the recognition that all of you and your teams on the front line are the real heroes of our industry. We thank you and salute you.
Key Articles from American Shipper on Cargo Issues
United States Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
CSMS #42176039 - APHIS Provides an Update on Import and Export Activities for Plants and Plant Products
APHIS recognizes the many challenges the COVID-19 pandemic poses to trade. We are doing all we can to ensure the health and safety of our employees while still delivering the services you need. At this time, we continue to provide all of our regular plant and plant product import and export services, including:
Accepting and processing permit applications,
Inspecting imported plants and plant products,
Identifying intercepted pests,
Monitoring phytosanitary treatment activities, and
Inspecting and certifying plants and plant products for export.
Accepting Electronic Certificates and Forms During the COVID-19 Emergency
To help facilitate the clearance of imported plants and plant products during the COVID-19 emergency, APHIS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will accept electronically produced versions of phytosanitary certificates, effective immediately. Importers and brokers may upload the electronic documents to the Automated Commercial Environment using the Document Imaging System or provide them by other means, such as email attachments. Acceptable phytosanitary certificates include scanned copies of original certificates, electronic certificates created through a participating country’s ePhyto system, or signed paper forms. Certificates should be legible and include APHIS-required statements.
In addition, we will allow precleared consignments to be accompanied by an email from APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) with an electronic copy of PPQ Form 203 attached, if the original form is not available.
We Are Here For You
Please continue to work with our PPQ staff as you normally do. They are available by phone and email. You may also submit import or export-related questions using the following contact information:
Plant or plant product imports: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-770-5990
Letter from PMA
The Covid-19 situation shifts daily, and we wanted to make sure you had information that is relevant to Science & Technology community. Below you will see information from a recent FDA briefing, a call from the USDA to help get fresh fruits and vegetables to school age students, and a townhall meeting to help answer Covid-19 questions. As always if you would like to add others in your organization to our contact list, please let Cyndi Neal know.
FDA Briefing Update
FDA held a Food Safety and Supply briefing that involved many high-ranking officials, including Deputy Commissioner, Frank Yiannas. During the briefing, FDA outlined that there is no food shortages and our food supply remains safe. There is currently no evidence of food and packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19, and FDA does not anticipate that food products will be recalled from the market if a manufacturing employee is confirmed positive for the virus. FDA has also posted a new set of FAQs just to: www.fda.gov/food
FDA has postponed inspections of most non-U.S. food facilities through April. This week FDA further announced that they are augmenting this prior announcement to include the postponement of all U.S. routine surveillance facility inspections. During this interim period, FDA is evaluating ways to conduct inspection work that would not jeopardize public safety or the well-being of those involved in the inspections. Inspections are just one part of the approach to maintaining a safe food supply. Produce safety should still be top of mind, and FSMA, GMPs, and GAPs should still be followed. A prudent step would be to re-emphasize your current personal hygiene and handwashing training and monitoring. The FDA remains committed to using all available tools to oversee the safety and quality of FDA-regulated products for American patients and consumers.
Personal Hygiene – Hand Sanitizer and Gloves
If you are running short on supply for hand sanitizer, the FDA has provided guidance on production of alcohol-based hand sanitizer to help boost supply. The FDA’s guidance documents apply only to handrub products prepared using the United States Pharmacopoeia or Food Chemical Codex grade ingredients specifically described in the guidance, consistent with World Health Organization recommendations.
Additionally, the question of the value of introducing or re-introducing iodine-based glove dips as an added SOP to personal hygiene and glove-use policies and training reinforcement moments has come up. This is an individual business decision and not without the need for some thoughtful evaluation. This was a common packing house activity in the earliest days of GAPs evolution, but is far less common in recent years. There is long-standing and sound information from the CDC to medical facilities about the positive efficacy of various qualified glove dip solutions including iodine formulations. At this time, there were many studies conducted on human viruses and may be an extra practice to consider. We will be pulling together resources in the near future to provide science-based information as it relates to viral disinfection, though not specific to COVID 19.
PMA Covid-19 Produce Virtual Town Hall
PMA is hosting a members-only Virtual Town Hall scheduled for March 25 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time with a COVID-19 expert and breakout sessions focused on food safety, grower-shippers, global trade, supply chain, foodservice, retail, and floral.
USDA Food Box – Partners Needed
As the coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to impact the world, the USDA announced that they are working with private partners to deliver food boxes, which will include servings of fruits and vegetables, to rural students. The food boxes delivered must all conform to Summer Food Service Program meal patterns. The USDA rural collaborative will utilize the exact same federal financing as the Summer Food Service Program Distribution and begin the week of March 24. Since initial capacity is limited, USDA is seeking additional vendors to expand capacity and outreach to more rural children as additional schools close. USDA will prioritize students who do not currently have access to an approved meal distribution site under the Summer Food Service Program and live in an area with an active outbreak of the coronavirus. USDA has created a single contact for those who have suggestions, ideas, or want to help feed kids across the country. Email email@example.com.
USDA APHIS Services Continue
The USDA will continue its regular services despite the challenges of COVID-19. These services, so important to the global produce industry, include: certifying exports, issuing import permits, inspecting imported plant shipments, helping to clear cargo held at foreign ports, responding to pest outbreaks, carrying out domestic pest programs, and opening new export markets. These services are provided through USDA’s Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine. For more, contact your state PPQ office. You can find contact information here: Plant Protection and Quarantine Contacts. The produce industry is critical to growing a healthier world – more important now than ever.
Resources on Perishable Produce and Floral Storage and Transportation Compatibility
During this period when long term and short-term storage practices may be impacted or transportation and LTL mixed load combinations are being impacted, compatibility for visual, sensory, and nutritional quality retention is important. A good resource for information can be found at the UC Postharvest Technology Center website Storage Recommendations page. On this page there is also a downloadable poster for home storage recommendations to maximize quality-life.
Small Business Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
The US Small Business Administration will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Once a declaration is made for designated areas within a state, the information on the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance will be made available to all affected communities as well as updated on website: SBA Disaster Assistance.
USDA allocates approximately $72.4 million to States for Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funds projects to support and enhance competitiveness of specialty crop food sector. Federal funds will be allocated to U.S. states, not individuals.
Interested parties should contact state contacts. State departments of agriculture should consult with specialty crop growers, processors, and/or distributors before developing SCBGP project applications to ensure maximum public input and benefit. Note that ornamental hort commodities are considered specialty crops. State applications are due May 27.
All the best,
Dr. Max Teplitski
Chief Science Officer
Produce Marketing Association
PO Box 6036, Newark, DE 19714
direct: +1 (302) 607-2194 | fax: +1 (302) 731-2409