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Agriculture Commissioner: The Ag Industry Must Take Part in Stopping the Spread of COVID-19

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 | 01:14pm

NASHVILLE — As our nation works diligently to halt the spread of COVID-19, there is no question that agriculture is vital for the most important aspects of our daily lives. Under Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order 22, agriculture is deemed an essential service.

Executive Order 22 adopts, in part, guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to identify essential critical infrastructure, such as agriculture and agribusiness. Under Executive Order 22, it is not necessary for agribusiness workers to have credentials or licensing to verify involvement in the agricultural supply chain.

Farmers, foresters, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers ensure community access to safe and abundant food, fuel, fiber, and wood products. The agriculture industry must do its part to protect the health of employees and the public and to keep the supply chain strong.

“This is not business as usual,” Commissioner of Agriculture Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “COVID-19 is a health emergency and it’s affecting every one of us. It is critical that all sectors of agriculture and agribusiness follow CDC guidelines to minimize risk of infection.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises:

·         Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.

·         Avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.

·         Regularly disinfect frequently-touched surfaces.

·         Wash your hands, cover your cough or sneeze, and avoid touching your face.

·         If you are sick or had contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19, stay home.

Every agribusiness should institute a response plan to follow CDC recommendations to protect their employees and customers and comply with local, state, and federal directives. The CDC has more information for businesses and employees online.

“We can work together to maintain our strong commitment to health,” Commissioner Hatcher said. “Biosecurity is a longstanding practice in agriculture and we understand the importance of immediately controlling a disease outbreak. During these uncertain times, farmers and foresters remain resilient. We know that the agriculture community is prepared to weather this storm.”

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is committed to providing the services you count on while also following CDC guidelines to safeguard the health of our staff and citizens. Access the latest information on Tennessee’s response to COVID-19 online and follow @TNAgriculture on Facebook and Twitter for updates.