Citing coronavirus concerns, Almond Alliance cancels annual convention set for April 27-30

March 25, 2020Citing concerns over the potential health risks posed by COVID-19, the Almond Alliance of California today announced the cancellation of its 39th annual 2020 Almond Alliance Convention scheduled for April 27-30 in Huntington Beach.

“The well-being of our members, staff and community is of the upmost importance to us,” said Mike Curry, Chairman of the Board. “Given the growing concern and limitation of public gatherings due to continued uncertainty and potential health risks posed by COVID-19, the annual convention will not proceed.”

The annual meeting brings together almond processors, huller/shellers, growers and associate members to network and discuss the industry’s priorities. “This would have marked our 39th annual convention,” noted Curry.  “It was a very hard decision for the Almond Alliance Board of Directors to cancel the event but this difficult decision was made in the best interest of members, presenters and the larger community.”

This year’s program offered sessions on port activity, pest management, energy storage, global trade landscape, labor law, almond hull markets, SGMA implementation and legislative and policy updates. The Almond Alliance Board of Directors and staff will make sure to get this important information out to our membership in the most efficient way despite the cancellation of the convention. The Almond Alliance has been working hard to provide many COVID-19 Resources, Fact Sheets, Guidance and Information to its membership and encourages you to visit:  https://almondalliance.org/resources/covid-19/

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About the Almond Alliance

The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) is a trusted non-profit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of the California almond community. California almonds generate more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly contribute more than $11 billion to the state’s total economy. California’s top agricultural export, almonds create approximately 104,000 jobs statewide, over 97,000 in the Central Valley, which suffers from chronic unemployment. The AAC is dedicated to educating state legislators, policy makers and regulatory officials about the California almond community. As a membership-based organization, our members include almond processors, hullers/shellers, growers and allied businesses. Through workshops, newsletters, conferences, social media and personal meetings, AAC works to raise awareness, knowledge and provide a better understanding about the scope, size, value and sustainability of the California almond community.

For more information on the Almond Alliance, visit https://almondalliance.org/ or check out the Almond Alliance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

Industry Alert: COVID-19 Resource Update

  March 20, 2020 — In an effort to provide Almond Alliance members resources on the new COVID-19 guidance, orders, factsheets and materials we have a library of resources available to you.  Templates that we have created for members include:

  • Explanation letters for employees.
  • Employee notifications of continued operations.
  • Permission letters for Essential FOOD AND AGRICULTURE employees and subcontractors.

If you need assistance, or have a question, contact us and we will help you get through this.

Below are some additional resources for your reference and review:

RESOURCES:

US Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce
https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce

California Department of Food and Agriculture
COVID-19 and the Food Supply
https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/coronavirus/CDFA_COVID-19_and_the_Food_Supply_3-19-20.pdf

US Department of Health and Human Services
Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

COVID-19 Workplace Materials in English and Spanish
English Poster: Click Here
Spanish Poster: Click Here
English Factsheet: Click Here
Spanish Factsheet: Click Here

Informational site for agriculture producers to get updates on USDA actions during the coronavirus emergency, including how to access certain services and programs and local Service Centers.
www.farmers.gov/coronavirus

Comprehensive information on all USDA announcements and actions related to the coronavirus emergency, as well as detailed FAQs.
www.usda.gov/coronavirus

Latest information related to the H2A visa program and processing of applications.
www.farmers.gov/manage/h2a

Use this email for questions, concerns, or suggestions about maintaining the food supply chain throughout this current situation.
foodsupplychain@usda.gov

Use this email for questions, concerns, or suggestions about ensuring kids and others have access to food and meals.
feedingkids@usda.gov

Use this email for any questions or if you are experiencing problems, or need assistance with getting H2A workers during this coronavirus emergency.
aglabor@usda.gov

Industry Alert: Food and Agriculture is critical infrastructure for California and the nation

  Posted on March 20, 2020 

Message from Secretary Karen Ross, California Department of Food & Agriculture

Note – Last night, as California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order for state residents due to COVID-19, his office released an executive order providing additional details. It includes this: “The federal government has identified 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, economic security, public health or safety, or any combination thereof. I order that Californians working in these 16 critical infrastructure sectors may continue their work because of the importance of these sectors to Californians’ health and well-being.”

One of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors is Food and Agriculture.

Throughout this ongoing emergency, California has maintained its focus on public health, first and foremost. Hand-in-hand with health, of course, is nutrition. Our food supply is a critical part of our society’s infrastructure, and the nourishment from that food is integral to healthy immune systems. From seed to consumer, that food supply chain must remain in constant motion to get store shelves restocked and keep Californians healthy.

California is proud to be the cornerstone of our national food supply. The federal Coronavirus Task Force has specifically stated that the food supply is a “critical infrastructure industry,” and that workers in this sector “have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”

Our farms and ranches, their suppliers, the food processing facilities, the delivery companies, the retailers… every member of our food supply chain is also a member of the affected community. Of course there will be some disruptions along the way as workforces are affected and contingency plans are activated. But we’ve planned for this, from grower to consumer, to ensure that disruptions are manageable and that Californians continue to have a safe, reliable and nutritious food supply.

To that end, CDFA is also working to ensure that our inspectors and other field staff have the credentials and information they need to assure local officials, private companies, consumers and other partners that we are conducting critical activities that are integral to the state’s COVID-19 response. Rest assured that the harvest continues – as it does every day of the year here in California.

Likewise, it is essential that critical infrastructure and supply chains are protected, and that all elements pertaining to the food supply remain operational, including our workforce that is vital to the food supply.

With that in mind, the CDFA web site now includes a Coronavirus Resources for Food and Agriculture page, which is being updated frequently.

Here is our state’s most current guidance regarding “COVID-19 and the Food Supply.”

COVID-19 and the Food Supply

March 19, 2020

A PDF of this document is available here.
Also available in Spanish (español).

This guidance is based on what is currently known about the transmission and severity of COVID-19. The California Department of Food and Agriculture, in consultation with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), will update this guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available.

Local environmental health and public health agencies may have additional guidance and/or requirements regarding these operations in their jurisdiction.  

BACKGROUND

Food and agriculture is a critical sector in the critical infrastructure of the nation, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, and it is an essential part of keeping supply chains full and people nourished.  The food supply is vital to protect against disruptions that would pose a serious threat to public health, safety, welfare, or to the national economy. The entities that make up the food supply are vast and must prepare for possible impacts of COVID-19 and take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as other infectious diseases.

We are gaining more understanding of COVID-19’s epidemiology, clinical course, immunogenicity, and other factors as time progresses, and the situation is changing daily.  CDPH is in the process of monitoring COVID-19, conducting testing with local and federal partners, and providing guidance and resources to prevent, detect and respond to the occurrence of COVID-19 cases in California.

FOOD SUPPLY

As defined by the federal government, the food supply makes up critical infrastructure from farm to table and includes assets, systems, networks, and functions that provide vital services to the nation. It is essential that federal government-defined critical infrastructure and supply chains are protected, and that all elements pertaining to the food supply remain operational, including a workforce that is vital to production of the food supply.

More information is provided in the National Infrastructure Protection Plan to help further clarify these critical infrastructure systems.

BEST PRACTICES GUIDELINES

Food producers and manufacturers have been required by longstanding federal and state laws and regulations to prevent anyone who is sick or has a communicable disease from handling, processing or preparing food for human consumption.  Thus, industries handling food and agricultural commodities are well practiced at this important and general principle of food safety and hygiene. It is important to follow recommendations as set forth by the CDC as well as those outlined below:

  • Maintain diligence in good hygiene, monitor for employee illness, and adhere to social distancing guidelines as possible.
  • Adhere to your operations Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP), ensuring that those supervising staff and operations are vigilant in their oversight.
  • CDC Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection guidance.Ensure adequate frequency of cleaning and sanitizing per
  • Adhere to cleaning and sanitizing frequency of restroom and other high contact areas.
  • Consider ways for employees to easily identify themselves (business card, company ID badge) outside of business operations for ease in transportation to and from work while adhering to local ordinances.

According to both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) there is currently no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food or food packaging. The CDC is also reporting that, in general, because of poor survivability of the coronavirus on surfaces, there is likely a very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.

Labor is a vital component to the food supply, from farm to fork. California has among the highest standards for food safety, which includes worker health and hygiene standards supported by labor laws that are very specific about paid sick leave for those individuals that may be affected by COVID-19 and unable to work.

Transportation: Governor Newsom’s Executive Order on transportation “to allow timely delivery of vital goods” is also an important part of this discussion.

For additional information and FAQs please visit: 

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.16.20_coronavirus-guidance_8.5x11_315PM.pdf

 

https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-issues/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-frequently-asked-questions

 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/businesses-employers.html

 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.htmlhttps://www.usda.gov/coronavirus

 
 

 

 

Industry Alert: Clarification on COVID-19 Governor Executive Order N-33-20

March 20, 2020 – -Yesterday evening, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 which orders all residents living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the Federal Critical Infrastructure Sectors.

The Food and Agriculture Sector is one of 16 sectors designated as critical infrastructure of the United States that is described as the supply chains for feed, animals, and animal products; crop production and the supply chains of seed, fertilizer, and other necessary related materials; and the post harvesting components of the food supply chain, from processing, production, and packaging through storage and distribution to retail sales, institutional food services, and restaurant or home consumption.

The Executive Order states that the Governor may designate additional sectors as critical in order to protect the health and well-being of all Californians.  The Executive Order goes into effect immediately and remains in effect until further notice.

We recommend that you review the information provided in the links below and make a determination if your business falls into the description of the Food and Agricultural Sector above.  If so, your workforce is not required to stay home.  If your operation is going to stay open during this event you should continue to comply with the CDC’s guidance for Businesses and Employers regarding COVID-19.

If you need assistance determining whether your business falls within the Food and Agriculture sector consult with your legal counsel or the Almond Alliance.

Key Information:

Executive Order N-33-20:  https://covid19.ca.gov/img/N-33-20.pdf
Additional Information:  https://covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs/
Federal Critical Infrastructure Sectors:  https://www.cisa.gov/critical-infrastructure-sectors
CDC Guidance for Businesses and Employers:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/businesses-employers.html

 

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE SECTOR:  General Description of Workers and Employees

  • 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 operations 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 agriculture 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.

To View the MEMORANDUM ON IDENTIFICATION OF ESSENTIAL CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE WORKERS DURING COVID-19 RESPONSE, Click Here.

COVID-19 Advice for Employers

March 16, 2020 – – Attached is a brief summary of considerations for California employers as you face the ever-changing challenges surrounding COVID-19.  We are providing only general recommendations in this memo since every industry is different and each employer runs a distinct operation.  How you decide to proceed should be based upon an individual assessment for your particular operation and circumstances.  As the conditions are continuing to evolve, we recommend that you work closely with your legal counsel to determine how to best proceed for your employees and your operation.

Click here to download the PDF file.

COVID-19 advisory

March 16, 2020 – Almond Alliance is sensitive to the health concerns regarding large gatherings and events due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The health and safety of each and every member of our community and our staff is of the utmost importance to us. We are monitoring the risk and impact of COVID-19 on a daily basis, and speaking at length with members of our community.

Updates regarding the 39th Annual Convention and other Almond Alliance events will be released as necessary. The situation is fluid and we appreciate your patience. We encourage those with questions or concerns to reach out to the Almond Alliance team at staff@almondalliance.org

Almond Alliance, CA Grain & Feed Association and California Seed Association Co-Sponsor Legislation

March 3, 2020 – -The Almond Alliance of California, the California Grain & Feed Association and the California Seed Association are sponsoring AB 3103 (Dahle) on “Agriculture Laboratory Testing.” The bill would authorize the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary to authorize state accredited, certified, or licensed laboratories to be established or designated for testing, sampling, and analyzing agriculture products.

The current CDFA Center for Analytical Chemistry (CAC) is experiencing a backlog and delay of sample turnaround time when testing fruits, vegetables, nuts, animal feed, and milk to ensure that pesticide and chemical levels are within the safety range established by national and international standards. This piece of legislation would simplify and expedite the process for testing, sampling, and analyzing agriculture products.