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Posted on: March 27, 2020

NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences Issues Essential Food and Agriculture Notice for

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences is taking preventative measures to help farmers, agribusinesses, and food workers in the event that the state of North Carolina issues a shelter-in-place order. At this time, the state of North Carolina does not have a shelter-in-place order in effect, although several North Carolina counties are issuing their own local orders. Warren County has not issued its own shelter-in-place order.

 Steve Troxler, NC Commissioner of Agriculture, is providing a notice to be used by employees performing essential job functions in the area of food preparation and distribution and agriculture.  The purpose is to ensure that workers in agriculture and food systems are not impeded as more COVID-19 response restrictions are adopted.  It is vital, in this time of emergency, to allow our agricultural related industries to move freely to keep our food system functioning. 

“Many agriculture-related companies in Warren County, from farmers and timber companies to food packaging manufacturers, will be able to continue operations as more COVID-19 restrictions are adopted,” advised Stacy Woodhouse, Director of Warren County EDC. 

The notice identifies individuals as being employed in one of the US Department of Homeland Security’s 16 critical industries for national security.

The Department of Homeland Security defines food and agriculture workers as:

  • Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies and other retail that sells food and beverage products
  • Restaurant carry-out and quick serve food operations – Carry-out and delivery food employees
  • Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include those employed in food processing (packers, meat processing, cheese plants, milk plants, produce, etc.) facilities; livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities; pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing by-products for animal food; beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging
  • Farm workers to include those employed in animal food, feed, and ingredient production, packaging, and distribution; manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of veterinary drugs; truck delivery and transport; farm and fishery labor needed to produce our food supply domestically
  • Farm workers and support service workers to include those who field crops; commodity inspection; fuel ethanol facilities; storage facilities; and other agricultural inputs
  • Employees and firms supporting food, feed, and beverage distribution, including warehouse workers, vendor-managed inventory controllers and blockchain managers
  • Workers supporting the sanitation of all food manufacturing processes and operation from wholesale to retail
  • Company cafeterias – in-plant cafeterias used to feed employees
  • Workers in food testing labs in private industries and in institutions of higher education
  • Workers essential for assistance programs and government payments
  • Employees of companies engaged in the production of chemicals, medicines, vaccines, and other substances used by the food and agricultural industry, including pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, minerals, enrichments, and other agricultural production aids
  • Animal agriculture workers to include those employed in veterinary health; manufacturing and distribution of animal medical materials, animal vaccines, animal drugs, feed ingredients, feed, and bedding, etc.; transportation of live animals, animal medical materials; transportation of deceased animals for disposal; raising of animals for food; animal production operations; slaughter and packing plants and associated regulatory and government workforce
  • Workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper and other wood products
  • Employees engaged in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment and other infrastructure necessary to agricultural production and distribution
  • Agricultural workers supporting the green industry to include nursery operations, garden centers, landscape companies critical to the environmental and physical living conditions necessary in our communities.  (NCDA&CS addition)

 Commissioner Troxler is encouraging workers to keep a copy of the notice with them as they travel.

“As our local farming community continues to work in the new norm, your local Cooperative Extension is available to assist with educational assistance, resources, and information,” stated Crystal M. Smith, County Extension Director.

The notice can be obtained by contacting the Warren County Economic Development office at 252-257-3114 or by email at StacyWoodhouse@WarrenCountyNC.gov. The notice can also be obtained by contacting Warren County Cooperative Extension at 252-257-3640. This notice is also available at https://www.warrencountync.com/736/Business-Community-Resources.

For more information, you may also contact Tim Ivey, Agribusiness Developer, of the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, at 919-707-3117 or email tim.ivey@ncagr.gov.


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