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March 18, 2020 

It’s hard to believe that just two weeks ago we were all together in Washington, D.C., for our annual Spring Meetings. If the meetings had been held just one week later, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to gather as an industry. 

Our world has dramatically changed since then.

In this rapidly changing environment, the NABC is working to provide our industry with the advocacy, information and resources needed to help members navigate this global pandemic.  

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to unfold, the NABC will be sharing frequent updates. 

Here’s our first roundup of pertinent information. Stay tuned for more. 


Labor: USDA To Step In and Assist With H2A Visa Processing

Yesterday, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue held an agriculture stakeholder conference call to address the growing concerns over news that the U.S. State Department was suspending processing of immigrant and non-immigrant visas in Mexico due to COVID-19, and disrupting the H2A Visa application process for agriculture’s seasonal workforce. 

Specifically, regarding Mexican activities, the State Department has announced that it will be processing H-2A applications for returning workers through an interview waiver process. To qualify for an interview waiver, the workers must have had an H-2A or H-2B visa that has expired in the last 12 months, must be applying for the same visa classification, and must not have required a waiver the last time they applied for a visa.

USDA recognizes this does not cover new workers and all former H-2A workers and will continue to work at the highest levels of the federal government to identify solutions that protect health and safety and continue to allow processing of H-2A visas.

Sec. Perdue assured the industry that USDA would be doing everything it could to ensure continued visa processing and provided a direct email to USDA staff to assist with any issues that may arise during these times.

That email is: 

The secretary also shared a web link where the industry could continue to receive real-time updates and resources related to COVID-19 and the H-2A Visa program:

The Ag Workforce Coalition also sent a letter to Secretary Mike Pompeo outlining concerns and the need for immediate flexibility for the H-2A program.


Trade (via PMA): Imports and trade across borders:

President Donald Trump confirmed the news in a tweet on Wednesday morning. "We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected. Details to follow!"

USATODAY: Coronavirus: What the new US-Canada nonessential travel restriction means for travelers 

CNBC:  Coronavirus response: US and Canada closing world’s longest border to non-essential traffic, Trump and Trudeau say

Logistics: U.S. DOT Waives Hours-of-Service Rules for Emergency Food Transport

An emergency declaration has been issued regarding hours-of-service rules regulating the trucking industry that apply to six areas, including food for emergency restocking of stores. The goal is to provide regulatory relief for commercial drivers during the coronavirus outbreak.  

Learn more in this report from 


Food Safety: FDA 3/18 Food Safety Webinar Highlights
Today, the FDA held a call regarding current activities, responding to stakeholders’ concerns identified in recent days and highlighting important FDA resources in response to the outbreak. 

Here are some highlights from that call pulled together by our crisis communications team at FleishmanHillard: 
  • There are no food shortages and the food supply remains safe.
  • There is no evidence of food and packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. 
  • FDA does not anticipate that food products will be recalled from the market if a manufacturing employee is confirmed positive for the virus.
  • The retail supply chains remain strong.
  • The FDA, USDA, White House and CDC are collaborating in an “all-government” approach to the overall crisis. 
  • The FDA will provide maximum flexibility to ensure a safe, accessible food supply.
  • Domestic inspections will focus resources on “mission-critical” inspections and all inspections will take into account the safety of the workforce. 
  • Foreign inspections are currently postponed. 
Additionally, FDA published a Q&A that addresses the industry's food safety concerns relevant to the COVID-19 outbreak. The full Q&A can be found on the U.S. FDA's website

The FDA also identified a couple of additional resources:
  • If you’re experiencing any issues with supply chain/moving food/transportation, contact FEMA at This is a 24/7 operation of the National Business Emergency Operations Center. They will direct your inquiry to the proper party.

COVID-19 Coverage Roundup 
Our crisis communication agency, FleishmanHillard, is providing a daily roundup of coverage related to the pandemic. 
Food & Agriculture COVID-19 Monitoring  
March 18, 2020  
25%-30% of Independent Restaurants Could Close, Texas Restaurant Association Warns Restaurant Business
40% of Shoppers Report Changing Produce Purchases Due to Coronavirus The Packer
A ‘Meteor’ Obliterates Restaurant Stocks as In-Store Dining Stops Restaurant Business
A New Site to Donate Gift Cards Could Help Your Favorite Restaurant Survive the Coronavirus Shutdown Forbes
Amazon Knows You're Ordering Toilet Paper in Bulk. It's Trying to Stock More Essentials CNN
Belgian Supermarket Chain Moves to Protect Older People from Coronavirus Reuters
Blue Apron Stock Surges 70% as Grocery and Food Deliveries Spike Amid Coronavirus Crisis Forbes
British Supermarkets Impose Limits as Panic Buying Spreads Reuters
Can the Novel Corona Virus be Transmitted Via Food and Objects? European Food Safety Authority
Cheerios Maker General Mills Forecasts Coronavirus Boost to Profit Reuters
Chipotle Introduces 'Delivery Kitchens' Systemwide QSR
Companies Collaborate with USDA to Feed Hungry Kids Farm Progress
Coronavirus Impact on Ag Supply Chain is Limited. For Now. Agri Pulse
Coronavirus is the Latest Challenge to Face Dairy Industry Food Dive
Coronavirus Live News: Spain to Close All Hotels as Tourists Advised to Leave; Worldwide Cases Pass 200,000 The Guardian
Coronavirus Puts Pressure on Farm Labor Picture Capital Press
Costco Just Spent $1B to Speed Up Delivery Progressive Grocer
Country Star Brad Paisley Says Free Grocery Store will Deliver Food to Nashville Seniors During Coronavirus Crisis CNN
Covid-19 Farmer Guidance in Delaware Farm Progress
Covid-19 Threatens Food Supply Chain as Farms Worry About Workers Falling NPR
COVID-19 Threatens Food Supply Chain as Farms Worry About Workers Falling Ill NPR
Farm Credit to Work with Borrowers Affected by COVID-19 Successful Farming
FDA to Answer Food Safety Questions Concerning COVID-19 The Packer
Food and Retail Leaders Reassure Stability of US Food Supply Chain Meat + Poultry
Food Industry Braces for Coronavirus Impacts Food Business News
Food, a Basic Pleasure, Is Suddenly Fraught The New York Times
Food, a Basic Pleasure, Is Suddenly Fraught The New York Times
General Mills Raises Adjusted Profit Forecast on Coronavirus-driven Demand Reuters
General Mills Says Demand Rises as Consumers Stockpile Associated Press
General Mills Says Demand Rises as Consumers Stockpile The Wall Street Journal
German Agriculture Minister: Food Supply Chains Function Despite COVID-19 Euractiv
Grocers ‘Have a Viable Supply Chain’ & ‘are not Shutting Down,’ but Product Mix may Change, FMI Says Food Navigator
Grocery Delivery Strains to Meet Voracious Demand The Wall Street Journal
Grubhub Clarifies its Restaurant Aid Program Amid Operator Complaints Restaurant Business
Help Wanted: Food Retailers Reach Out to Displaced Service Sector Counterparts Grocery Business
How the Produce Industry is Battling Covid-19 Produce News
Indonesia Rations Purchases of Staples, Eyes Fuel Price Cuts Reuters
Italian Wine Producers - How They are Dealing with Coronavirus Forbes
Malaysia Exempts Palm Plantations from Virus Closures Ensuring Global Supply Reuters
Managing Markets, Farm Business During Covid-19 Farm Progress
Meat Processors Ramp Up Production Farm Progress
More Grocers Stepping Up with Dedicated Hours for At-risk Shoppers Grocery Business
More than One in Four Americans are Actively Avoiding Eating Out in Restaurants as Coronavirus Crisis Worsens Restaurant Hospitality
Morrisons has not Asked UK Govt to get Army to Protect Stores - CEO Reuters
Navigating the Coronavirus Crisis FSR
New School Nutrition Association Survey: K-12 Districts’ Food Service Directors Find Solutions, Improvise to Feed Kids During Coronavirus Closures Food Management
No Print Circulars, Banning of Reusable Bags, Coronavirus Brings About Unexpected Changes Grocery Business
NRA Sends Restaurant Industry Recovery and Relief Proposal to White House Nation's Restaurant News
Panic Buying Leaves Retailers Scrambling to Restock Capital Press
Potential for Global Recession Threatens Already Slumping Farm Economy AgriPulse
Public-private Partnership Aims to Overcome Food Chain Disruptions AgriPulse
ReGrained Launches Upcycled Puffs Online Amid COVID-19 Bakery and Snacks
Restaurant Shutdowns are Putting Millions of Jobs at Risk, According to New Report CNN
Restaurant Traffic is Down 48% During Coronavirus Crisis, According to OpenTable Restaurant Hospitality
Restaurants Adapt Menus to Covid-19 Restaurant Business
Restaurants are Already Seeing Traffic Declines Over Coronavirus Restaurant Business
Restaurants Discount Kids’ Meals in Wake of Coronavirus QSR
Shelters and Food Banks Helping Those Among Most Vulnerable to the Coronavirus Forbes
Singapore is Getting Food Supplies Despite Malaysia's Virus Curbs Reuters
Society for Hospitality & Foodservice Management Food Service Operators Discuss Coronavirus Strategies Food Management
Study Reports Consumers’ Food Buying Decisions During Coronavirus Scare ProAg
The U.S. is Shutting Down. For Walmart, It’s Time to Step up Bloomberg
These U.K and U.S. Distilleries are Making and Donating Hand Sanitizer Forbes
Trump Encourages Fast-Food Brands to Keep the Drive Thru Open QSR
Two Kroger Co. Store Associates Diagnosed with Coronavirus Supermarket News
U.K. Grocers Ration Goods, Bulk Up Online to Deal With Virus Bloomberg
U.S. Restaurants Ask for Federal Aid, Could Take $225 Billion Hit from Coronavirus Reuters
U.S. Suspends Visa Processing in Mexico, Threatening Businesses Reliant on Seasonal Workers The Wall Street Journal
U.S. Suspends Visa Processing in Mexico, Threatening Businesses Reliant on Seasonal Workers The Wall Street Journal
UK Pub, Restaurant Owners Eye Debt Waivers to Ride Out Virus Crisis Reuters
UK's Morrisons says Coronavirus is 'Unprecedented Challenge' Reuters
USA Rice Addresses Domestic Rice Supply Amidst COVID-19 Farm Progress
USDA Leaders Call for Industry Cooperation Amidst 'Uncertain Times' Food Safety News
What We’re Buying for the Quarantine The New Yorker
Wineries Operating as Essential Businesses Under COVID-19 Orders Farm Progress
With Cancellation of Viva Fresh, TIPA Looking Forward to 2021 Produce News

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