Since COVID-19, farms across the nation have had to adapt to new and unpredictable circumstances. In Florida alone, more than $500 million dollars in crop losses were reported due to the pandemic.
In this episode, our guest speaker Logan Petrey discusses:
- how COVID-19 has affected her farm,
- steps that have been taken to increase food safety on the farm,
- and general food safety tips going forward.
Although the supply chain was most greatly affected at the beginning of the pandemic, Ms. Petrey says that effects are still being felt today.
COVID-19 caused a large shift in consumer behavior. The food service industry, which included restaurants and schools, took a big hit. However, there was an increased demand for product in other areas such as food pantries. Some products both in large- and small-scale farms saw record-breaking prices, yet the rise of cost in production because of added expense to safety for laborers offset profits.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 is not a food-borne illness – it is a respiratory illness—and no evidence of food or food packing being associated with transmission of COVID-19 has been found. It does, however, affect farm workers so keeping workers healthy is a large concern.
For Ms. Petrey’s farm, increased health testing as well as spacing in production facilities, shipping departments and worker housing were some of the procedures taken to protect workers.
As for how to improve food safety on farms, Ms. Petrey recommends:
- delegating a food safety point person on your farm,
- creating simple standard operating procedures for any task on the farm that could compromise food safety,
- educating and training all contracted employees, which may require language translation,
- and attending trainings at universities to learn more about food safety.
Learn more about Ms. Petrey’s farm (Grimmway Farms) by visiting their website. Find more information on the CDC website for recommendations on food safety during COVID-19.