Farmers and ranchers are now on the front lines when it comes to fighting the impact of COVID-19, thanks to a decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
The agency is recognizing thousands of jobs in agriculture and related fields as “essential critical infrastructure workers.”
"Everyone from the people who supply the inputs to the farmers and producers who grow the food and care for animals are considered essential workers now," reported Clinton Griffiths, anchor and executive producer for AgDay Television, earlier Monday.
Concerns about how to prepare for the upcoming planting season, in particular, have weighed heavily on many members of the agriculture industry, including Clint Deitch, owner of Crop Partners, Norborne, Mo.
“A couple of weeks ago we were thinking, ‘How do we get everything here that we needed here?’ Now, knowing that they’ve deemed agriculture a critical industry, that means everything we need will get here and the farmers will be able to plant their seed.”
Why not veterinarians? Some invaluable members of the agriculture industry not yet formally identified as “essential” across all states are veterinarians.
"So far we’ve seen at least 17 states formally identify veterinary medicine as 'essential' services, and there may be additional ones on the way," Michael San Filippo shared with Bovine Veterinarian on Tuesday, via email.
"We haven’t heard of any states labeling veterinary medicine as non-essential, although some states—such as New York—specify 'emergency' services as essential, or recommend against performing elective procedures that could be postponed until after these orders have expired," adds Filippo, senior media relations specialist for the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Many bovine veterinarians across the country continue to make on-farm calls to treat livestock, given the difficulty involved in trying to diagnose health issues and treat large animals remotely.
San Filippo reports that the AVMA has developed a document about why veterinary services should be classified as “essential” and shared it with all 50 U.S. governors. The document is available here: https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19/veterinary-practices-are-essential-businesses.
Other categories CISA has listed as essential critical infrastructure workers include:
1. Health Care/Public Health
2. Law Enforcement, Public Safety, First Responders
3. Food and Agriculture
5. Water and Wastewater
6. Transportation and Logistics
7. Public Works
8. Communications and Information Technology
9. Other Community-Based Government Operations and Essential Functions
10. Critical Manufacturing
11. Hazardous Materials
12. Financial Services
14. Defense Industrial Base