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COVID-19 News and Updates

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March 26, 2020 State Veterinarian Statement on Veterinary Elective Procedures
March 26, 2020 – USDA released three additional nation-wide waivers for Child Nutrition programs, including National School Lunch and Breakfast, Summer Food Service Program, Seamless Summer Option, and the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program. Click here to learn more.
March 24, 2020 – https://www.aberdeennews.com/farm_forum/usda-and-dol-announce-information-sharing-to-assist-h-/article_6fb119d0-6c74-11ea-9aef-f7ef957c1425.html – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Labor to help facilitate the identification of foreign and domestic workers that may be available and eligible to transfer to other U.S. agricultural sector employers to fulfill critical workforce needs within the U.S. under existing regulatory authority during the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 23, 2020SLC Emergency Loan Program –  The purpose of this loan program is to provide financial relief to small businesses that will most likely see a downturn in business due to an unforeseen emergency.  The program is intended to help businesses keep their employees and stay afloat during a time of economic hardship. It is meant to bridge the gap for what may be a shortened financial hardship period.
March 19, 2020CISA Releases Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 – The US department of homeland security has designated food and agriculture an one of the essential critical infrastructure industries. Thank you farmers, ranchers and food system workers for keeping the food moving during this critical time.
March 18, 2020USDA Announces Feeding Program Partnership in Response to COVID-19 – This collaboration with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, PepsiCo, and others will allow delivery of nearly 1,000,000 meals to students in some rural schools closed due to COVID-19.
March 17th, 2020 –  All WUSATA activities scheduled for between now and through June 30th have been postponed. WUSATA will be evaluating each activity on an ongoing basis. Complete details will be shared by the end of May. Click here for more information: https://www.wusata.org/programs/updates/
March 17, 2020 – Click here to learn about H2A updates – H2A: In response to the global pandemic COVID-19, and in line with the Mexican government’s call to increase social distancing, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and all U.S. consulates in Mexico will suspend routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services, including H2A migrant farm worker visas starting March 18, 2020, and until further notice. The Monterey embassy will continue processing returning workers who do not require an interview.
March 17, 2020Click here for the full USDA press release that was given today, March 17, to stakeholders.
March 16, 2020Click here for an important update from the Utah Food Industry Association and Utah Retail Merchants Association about grocery stores and other food retailers related to COVID-19.

 

BUILDING OPERATIONS/ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICE

    • March 19, 2020 – The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food main office in Salt Lake City remains closed today, Thursday March 19, 2020. Yesterday State inspectors cleared the building for structural soundness. However, plumbing leaks are still being fixed.
      Please check back for updates. If you need our assistance and cannot contact the person or program you need, please email agriculture@utah.gov.
    • The UDAF main office in Salt Lake City remains open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, except national and state holidays.  Many of our employees are currently teleworking from remote sites, so if you are coming to visit with specific staff, please check first.
    • Our reception area and credit cards machines close daily at 4:30 PM.  All in-person or telephone payments are to be made prior to 4:30 PM.

ANIMAL INDUSTRY:

    • March 26, 2020 State Veterinarian Statement on Veterinary Elective Procedures
    • March 25, 2020Guidance for Veterinarians on Elective Procedures and Surgeries – Utah Department of Health announced restrictions on medical, dental and veterinary procedures that are non-urgent in order to preserve personal protection equipment until 11:59p on April 25, 2020, unless otherwise modified.
    • March 19, 2020 – In response to the COVID-19 guidelines, the prudent action is to reschedule upcoming board meetings at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.  The Brand Board Meeting on March 24, 2020 will be rescheduled.
    • In response to the COVID-19 guidelines with the Animal Industry Division, the prudent action is to cancel upcoming board meetings at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.  This includes the Fish Health Policy Board and the Brand Board meetings that were scheduled for 10:00 AM. For questions about the Fish health Policy Board, please contact Anna Forest at annaforest@utah.gov or call 801-870-9339
    • The UDAF Animal Industry Division will continue business as usual. If businesses that use our services are open and operating we will be there!
    • That includes:
      • The Meat and Poultry Inspection Program will continue to provide our State  inspection services as normal throughout the state of Utah. This includes slaughter and processing facilities.
      • Our domesticated elk facilities will continue to be licensed and inspected.
      • Our brand inspectors will continue to work as usual, and will staff auctions as long as they are open.
      • Our predator control program trappers continue to operate as usual.
    • We will continue to man the phones and answer questions and deal with travel permits for livestock.
    • Permits may be obtained by calling 801-538-7164 and Dr. Taylor’s phone number is 801-538-7162 for questions and issues that need his attention.

 

PLANT INDUSTRY:

    • All UDAF Plant and Insect inspection programs will continue as usual. The Plant Industry Division has a line of succession in place so that if a program manager or lead is unavailable there are others designated to fill in.
Robert Hougaard – 801-538-7180 – rhougaard@utah.gov
Mark Ashcroft – 435-752-6263 – mashcroft@utah.gov
Henry Hahalewski – 801-538-4923 – hnahalewski@utah.gov
Kris Watson – 801-538-7184 – kwatson@utah.gov
Dave Basinger – 435-636-3234 – dbasinger@utah.gov
Aaron Eagar  – 801-538-7186 – aeagar@utah.gov

REGULATORY SERVICES:

    • As far as farming operations and delivery to your customers: 
– Frequent hand washing and sanitizing
– Avoid touching your any part of your face with your hands
– Minimize or eliminate bare hand contact with ready to eat foods being harvested.
– Clean and disinfect door handles and other touch points commonly used by the public, etc.
– Require staff to report any exposure (family, friends, etc.)
– In some cases, consideration may need to be given to either restricting or excluding staff from working or handling food, depending on exposure.
    • Because there are so many variables to consider, basic common sense and implementing these simple precautions should be helpful.
    • For the lab, we will continue normal operations and laboratory testing that is done for department regulatory purposes, including cannabis and hemp testing. However, depending on the available personnel resources, we may need to decline testing that is requested by private entities (e.g., businesses and other organizations).