The spread of COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on our way of life.
Bars and restaurants are closed. There are no live sports, movies, concerts or other forms of entertainment. Attractions are shut down to discourage large gatherings of people.
It is also having a significant impact on farms and agricultural processors across North America.
“For urban North America, we don’t often think about where our food comes from,” says Dr. Lucas Pantaleon, a technical veterinary advisory with Ogena Solutions. “We too easily forget that our food comes from farms and food processing facilities, and keeping them clean and safe — and operating — during a pandemic outbreak is of utmost importance.”
Since the outbreak came to North America, farmers have been facing significant challenges. Travel restrictions and quarantine regulations are making it difficult to bring migrant workers to prep the fields this spring. Processing plants have been forced to close for extended periods for deep cleaning — in fact, Canada’s largest single outbreak of COVID-19 has been in a meat packing plant. Restaurant closures have significantly reduced the market where farmers can sell their food. New procedures and guidelines are being adopted for cleaning and disinfecting around the farm.
On the positive side, farmers have plenty of experience practicing good biosecurity to contain disease threats, whether it is containing a virus like the porcine epidemic diarrhea or implementing preventive measures for foreign animal diseases like African swine fever.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a bit different for farms as it is a threat to humans and not so much to the animals,” says Dr. Pantaleon. “It is vital that farmers protect both.”
Dr. Pantaleon offers the following insight into keeping North America’s farms safe during this pandemic.