This playbook provides guidelines for agricultural operations in Greater Des Moines (DSM) including farms, processing facilities and their suppliers.
Sample: Independent Farmer Risk Profile
The sample risk profile has been determined for independent farmers in DSM. The profile shows frequency, or how many people in a day; duration, or length of typical interaction; and variety, or the number of different people.*
Purchasing and Sales
The Iowan farming industry is essential and critical to the global food supply chain that feeds this nation and beyond and helps fuel the global commodities trade market. The slowdown or shutdown of hog, cattle, turkey and layer processing plants has broken the links in the interdependent supply chain between farms, grain processors, feed mills, animal feeding operations, harvest facilities, distributions channels, retail or institutional users and consumers. The current broken links have had a ripple effect throughout related industries such as food supply, feed energy, feed ingredients, etc. Market prices for this year's crop have fallen tremendously. Prices for corn, soybeans, pigs and cattle are below the cost to produce them.
Declines in Meat Production
Beginning in April 2020, closures and slowdowns at meatpacking plants led to significant disruptions and created issues of oversupply and low prices for livestock producers. Closures were especially prominent in the beef and pork industries. By mid-May, meat production was 40% below 2019 levels. As things currently stand, USDA projects lower total meat production for 2020 by 3.15 billion pounds. Pork and broilers face the largest losses, with roughly 3% drops in projected production while beef and turkey production is expected to drop 2%. Iowa State University economists estimate that Iowa's pork industry is expected to lose more than $2 billion and the beef industry, $700 million. The Iowa Turkey Federation notes Iowa's turkey producers have agreed to cut production by 1.8 million birds. According to the Iowa Poultry Association, production of eggs cracked on farms for use for restaurants, hotels and food manufacturers has dropped by about $110 million.
Reduced Demand for Ethanol
A combination of sharply lower crude oil prices and a widespread decline in consumer fuel demand has gutted ethanol demand to the point at which many ethanol refiners have slowed or stopped operations. The fall in demand for ethanol has interrupted the trade of vegetable oils as ingredients and eliminated the availability of ethanol by-products used for feed. ISU economists estimate that Iowa ethanol producers will lose $2.5 billion due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Thanks to favorable weather, Iowa farmers had a good window to plan this year. According to data from the USDA, Iowa farmers planted 23.4 million acres of corn and soybeans in 2020. In August, a powerful derecho storm rolled across the Midwest, damaging more than 10 million acres of Iowa cropland. By early estimates that would mean some 43% of Iowa's 2020 corn and soybean crop has been damaged or destroyed by the violent storm system.
Shifting Global Trade
On the one hand, row crops, small grains and even vegetables could see new demand abroad as global trade partners change the pace at which they make major purchases. Importing countries are looking at increasing inventories over the coming year, which is expected to increase global trade of rice and wheat in the next year. Global buyers may look to the U.S. for reliable supplies of some items, such as soybean meal as they reopen and restock.
On the other hand, as a result of disruptions to global food supply chains, many countries, including the U.S., will attempt to institute a “produce and sell locally” strategy to prevent the over-reliance on brittle supply chains. Locally, there will be a move towards a more distributed system, as opposed to mega-processing plants that force a local market to rely heavily on foreign trade.
Implications of Plant Closings on Animals
Millions of animals could be euthanized due to plants closing. Until operations are able to stabilize again at full capacity, shortages of pork, eggs and turkey are possible due to the disruptions in supply.
Decreasing Oil Prices
A recovery in economic activity has helped ethanol plants ramp up production as gasoline demand has increased. However, a resurgence in virus incidences threatens ethanol production over the short run and injects uncertainty into long-run prospects. The Energy Information Agency projects ethanol production at 5% lower than pre-coronavirus production levels over the next marketing year. The importance of ethanol as a corn demand source remains crucial. Moving into the next marketing year, economic activity needs to improve to maintain this fundamental driver of corn prices.
Health & Sanitation
- Conduct a health screening with all employees prior to entry into the work site, or if possible, before boarding shared transportation in accordance with the most up-to-date recommendations from the local public health department.
- Encourage employees who feel sick to stay home. Employees who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should consult CDC guidance on when to self-quarantine.
- Sick workers should stay away from animals, including livestock and pets, during their illness.
- Train all employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
- Employ PPE in accordance with the most up-to-date recommendations from the local public health department.
- Farmworkers can continue to wear whatever gloves they normally wear while doing fieldwork. Such gloves may include disposable gloves made of lightweight nitrile or vinyl, or heavy-duty rubber work gloves that can be disinfected.
- Encourage employees to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Workers must have reasonable access to permanent and/or temporary hand washing facilities equipped with soap, potable water and clean, single-use towels.
- Increase the number of handwashing stations to minimize the distance to a station and the likelihood of crowding at stations.
- These sanitizing stations should be in multiple locations on the farm, if feasible, such as the point of entry or exit to a farm field, the location where farmworkers clock in/out and, if possible, in individual containers made available to workers in field settings.
- In addition, to increasing the frequency of handwashing, if hands aren’t visibly soiled or dirty, farmworkers can use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, rubbing hands until they are dry.
- Develop sanitation protocols for daily cleaning and sanitation of work sites, where it is feasible to disinfect the work site, as well as cleaning and disinfecting procedures for high-touch areas such as tools, equipment and vehicles, following CDC guidance on cleaning methods.
- Where possible, do not share tools.
- If tools are used by multiple employees, they should be cleaned and disinfected between each employee use, if possible.
- When cleaning and disinfecting after each use is not possible, daily targeted and more frequent cleaning of shared equipment and tools is needed. In such cases, workers may also need to use gloves when handling shared tools and equipment.
- Follow the manufacturer’s contact time recommendations to make sure solutions remain on surfaces for the recommended time.
- Since children may be present on the farm, plan how to keep cleaning chemicals, including hand sanitizers out of reach of children.
- Choose disinfectants or alternative cleaning methods (e.g., soap and water) for surfaces with which food comes into contact.
- Conduct targeted and more frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch areas of shared spaces (e.g., time clocks, bathroom fixtures, vending machines, railings, door handles).
- Clean and disinfect break areas between each group using the areas, as well as daily.
- Clean and disinfect locker rooms at the end of each shift.
- Provide disposable disinfectant wipes or other appropriate disinfectant supplies, and required PPE so that commonly touched surfaces can be wiped down, as needed.
Space & Process
- Adjust workflow to allow for a six-foot distance between workers, if feasible.
- Install shields or barriers, such as plastic, between workers, when a six-foot distance is not possible.
- Add additional clock in/out stations (touch-free if available) or additional time for clocking in/out to reduce crowding, if feasible.
- Remove or rearranging chairs and tables or adding visual cue marks in employee break areas to support social distancing between workers.
- Consider reducing crew sizes, staggering work shifts, mealtimes and break times to encourage social distancing.
- Consider having farmworkers alternate rows in fields to facilitate a six-foot distance between each other.
- Consider placing materials (such as harvesting buckets) and produce at a central transfer point instead of transferring directly from one worker to the next.
- Consider grouping healthy workers together into cohorts that include the same workers each day. This can increase the effectiveness of altering normal shift schedules by making sure that groups of workers are always assigned to the same shifts with the same coworkers. Effectiveness is optimized if it is aligned with shared living quarters and shared transportation.
- Control and limit outside traffic into facilities and require visitors to pass a health screen/protocol in accordance with Department of Public Health guidelines.
- Facilities should consider consulting with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning engineer to ensure adequate ventilation in work areas to help minimize workers’ potential exposures.
- If fans such as pedestal fans or hard-mounted fans are used in the facility, take steps to minimize air from fans blowing from one worker directly at another worker. Personal cooling fans should be removed from the workplace to reduce the potential spread of any airborne or aerosolized viruses. If fans are removed, employers should remain aware of, and take steps to prevent, heat hazards.
- Develop or provide training and messaging (in multiple languages) for social distancing, hand hygiene, donning, doffing and sanitizing PPE and messaging about what to do if you are sick. Consider alternatives to traditional in-person trainings for delivery of this information (e.g., videos). Develop a method to verify employee understanding and participation in these strategies.
- Adopt mass communication methods to communicate COVID-19 prevention and informational messages to employees.
- Add visual cues at six-foot intervals (e.g., floor markings, signs, traffic cones) in cafeterias, knife and gear acquisition areas and other areas where lines may form.
- Audit communication channels to validate the information is being received and followed by all personnel.
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)
This $19 billion program will assist farmers, ranchers and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.
Customers will continue to seek online orders and home delivery for a wide range of goods. Consider partnering with providers who can enable online shopping and digital distribution. For instance, Des Moines' Downtown Farmers' Market offers opportunities for local vendors to sell to area customers in an interactive and virtual setting. Dogpatch Urban Gardens on the northwest side of DSM has launched its own online initiative in 2020 so consumers can pre-order fresh food for contactless pick up or delivery.
USDA Rural Development
USDA Rural Development lenders may offer 180-day loan payment deferrals without prior agency approval for Business and Industry Loan Guarantees, Rural Energy for America Program Loan Guarantees, Community Facilities Loan Guarantees and Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees.
Resource Coordination Center for Pig Farmers
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has formed a Resource Coordination Center (RCC) to support Iowa livestock producers affected by the COVID-19 supply chain disruptions.
The business function playbooks include takeaways that are specific to professional functions that could be present in any business, regardless of industry.
*We note that these assessments are qualitative and based on expert-led judgment (Johns Hopkins, 2020). Currently, there are not enough detailed data available to enable quantitative risk stratification. Businesses will need to make decisions about re-initiating business activities before there are validated data to know the precise levels of risk.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership's DSM Forward playbook is not intended to constitute legal advice or provide specific direction
. The preparation of a business continuity or preparations plan should be undertaken with the advice and direction of appropriate specialists and personnel, in consideration of the unique circumstances impacting each business. Third-party websites or material linked to or referenced in DSM Forward are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation of The Partnership of that material or its authors.
Last updated: 8/17/2020