The American Feed Industry Association, along with 23 state and regional feed and grain associations, called on state officials around the country to maintain access to businesses providing animal food amid proposed state plans to close “non-essential businesses” to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The plea comes after some states released response plans that excluded animal food manufacturing facilities, transportation and agricultural and non-agricultural retail establishments from their lists of “essential businesses.” In an urgent letter, the groups stated that these businesses should be reclassified because not doing so would hinder the animal food industry’s ability to continue feeding America’s livestock, poultry and pets, threaten the U.S. food supply and drive up prices for farmers, ranchers, pet owners and consumers.

“While we understand and appreciate the efforts to slow this pandemic, we also must recognize that animals must continue to have access to food and therefore, our industry must be able to manufacture, transport and sell ingredients, feed and pet food,” the associations stated in the letter. “Some states have taken the necessary steps to exclude essential businesses that qualify as ‘agricultural’ under their respective state codes. As you look at your next containment steps, we want to ensure that livestock feed and pet food, and the establishments that transport, package, manufacture, process and sell those products, receive the same exemptions as they are vital to the health and wellbeing of animals.”

The groups added that some animal food products can be purchased from a variety of places, including pet stores, grocers, veterinary clinics and a variety of agricultural and non-agricultural retail establishments.

Signatories to the letter included: American Feed Industry Association, Agribusiness Association of Kentucky, Agribusiness Association of Iowa, Alabama Feed & Grain Association, California Grain & Feed Association, Florida Feed Association, Inc., Grain & Feed Association of Illinois, Indiana Grain and Feed Association, Kansas Grain & Feed Association, Michigan Agri-Business Association, Minnesota Grain & Feed Association, Missouri Agribusiness Association, Montana Feed Association, Nebraska Grain & Feed Association, Ohio Agribusiness Association, Oklahoma Grain & Feed Association, Oregon Feed & Grain Association, Inc., Pacific Northwest Grain & Feed Association, PennAg Industries Association, Rocky Mountain Agribusiness Association, South Dakota Grain & Feed Association, Tennessee Feed & Grain Association, Texas Grain & Feed Association, and the Wisconsin Agri-Business Association. The full letter can be found here.