Matt Winslow is the current NAICC president and the research director at Tidewater Agronomics, which serves northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia.
For the first time in nearly 25 years the NAICC Executive Board did not hold its Spring Board meeting, meet with government officials or have the annual Crawfish Boil on the Hill in response to travel restrictions placed on many states including Washington, DC due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While our board was not able to meet in person, we have been working diligently via conference calls and electronic communication to handle NAICC business and manage legislative issues with key stakeholders in Washington, DC.
We had 40 meetings scheduled with Congressional members, House and Senate ag committees, USDA and EPA personnel as well as numerous commodity and ag groups. All were cancelled; however, we are holding conference calls with USDA and EPA to continue dialogue on issues such as resistance, biologicals, and loss of pesticide registrations.
During these uncertain times, NAICC maintains its purpose to educate and support our crop consultants, research consultants and quality assurance professionals. In doing so, the NAICC Governmental Affairs Committee received confirmation from USDA that crop and research consultants, including QA’s are classified as Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.
On March 16 President Trump issued the Guidance On The Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce that states: “If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”
Further, USDA responded to NAICC’s request for clarification stating, “Based on our inputs and feedback to the production of this document, we understand the following to encompass your membership:
- Farm workers and support service workers to include those who field crops; commodity inspection; fuel ethanol facilities; storage facilities; and other agricultural inputs.” (This can be found in this hyperlink: Food and Agriculture Section; bullet #5.)
The NAICC has developed forms to assist our members who may encounter movement restrictions as they continue to service their clients. Members can access travel forms for employees and company vehicles to have on hand from the NAICC website. Also included is an overview of the Department of Homeland Security guidance to carry with them.
These are uncertain times and unchartered waters we are having to navigate. With our scouting season just beginning for 2020, we plan continue our normal field scouting programs but limit face to face meetings with clients until restrictions are lifted. I am praying that all of our members and their families remain safe during these difficult times. It is also my prayer that your businesses remain successful and that we can continue supporting our farmers through our vast wealth of agricultural knowledge.
For more, go to NAICC.org.