Meat Processing Laws in Ohio and the U.S.

Originally posted in Ohio’s Country Journal

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

Meat sales have been subject to serious supply chain issues wrought by COVID-19, raising many questions here in Ohio about who can process meat and where meat can be sold. In my opinion, explaining meat processing laws is nearly as difficult as summarizing the Internal Revenue Code. But one easy answer to the meat processing questions we’ve been receiving relates to Ohio’s participation in the Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) Program established by the 2008 Farm Bill. Ohio was the first state to participate in CIS and is the largest of the seven approved state CIS programs. CIS participation means that a small Ohio processor can apply to operate as a “federally inspected” plant and sell meat across state lines, including through online sales.

Continue reading

FARMERS AND FOOD GROUPS INNOVATE TO KEEP OPERATIONS VIABLE AS THE CORONAVIRUS SPREADS

FARMERS WHO SELL DIRECTLY TO CUSTOMERS AT FARMERS’ MARKETS AND THROUGH CSAS ARE COMING UP WITH NOVEL SOLUTIONS AT BREAKNECK SPEED TO KEEP THEIR CUSTOMERS FED AND THEIR OPERATIONS VIABLE.

By : Leah Douglas

For Jody Osmund, who runs Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm with his partner, Beth, in Ottawa, Illinois, the shuttering of public spaces to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus presents a significant challenge. He typically distributes his farm shares at brewery taprooms around the Chicago area, which allows him to share a pint with customers while supporting local businesses. So how should he proceed when many bars and restaurants are closed, and heath guidelines demand that people keep their distance?

Enter the pool noodle.

Osmund used the noodle to mark out a safe distance between him and the members of his community-supported agriculture program at this week’s distribution site. “I’d take their name and get their CSA share. Then [I] would set it down for them and back away before they would pick it up,” he described via email. “It was a little awkward, but the pool noodle was disarming and brought a little levity.”

As the spread of the coronavirus causes many cities to curtail public gatherings, farmers who sell directly to customers at farmers’ markets and through CSAs are coming up with novel solutions at breakneck speed to keep their customers fed and their operations viable.

Some food distribution groups are even rethinking their entire delivery model, trying to ensure that farmers still have a market and customers still have access to fresh food.

Their adaptations include, of course, improving sanitary practices by frequently washing hands and offering sanitizer to customers. Farmers at markets are wearing gloves, handling produce themselves rather than having shoppers select items, and eliminating sampling. Those who distribute CSA shares are pre-bagging and bringing them to customers’ cars or operating in the parking lots of the closed business or churches where they would otherwise distribute.

Some organizations are piloting home delivery for the first time, as many shoppers are self-isolating or quarantined at home. Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s Market Mobile program typically delivers wholesale orders of local produce and other farm goods to restaurants and universities across the state. But this week, the group rolled out a new system that allowed individual households to place orders online and have food dropped off right at their door. Continue reading

Questions Regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Farms with Employees

Gustavo M. Schuenemann, DVM, MS, PhD, Professor & Extension Veterinarian Jeffrey D. Workman, PhD, Extension Program Coordinator

Corona Virus In Red Background – Microbiology And Virology Concept – 3d Rendering

What is COVID-19 coronavirus?
COVID-19 is an infection caused by a novel (or new) strain of coronavirus. This strain is new; thus, people around the world do not yet have any immunity to the virus. Group immunity means a high enough proportion of individuals in a population are immune; thus, the majority will protect the few susceptible individuals because the pathogen is less likely to find a susceptible individual. This virus strain is very contagious before any signs or symptoms of sickness appear. It spreads very easily from person to person and has become a worldwide pandemic. In addition, this strain of virus can cause serious disease and death in elderly people and those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. Anyone who has a suppressed immune system (immunocompromised) is also considered high risk.
CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Are the risks and concerns regarding COVID-19 coronavirus different on a farm?
The difference between a farm and some other workplaces is that most work cannot be performed remotely. People must be physically present to feed, milk, and care for animals or crops. While automation may reduce the number of people necessary on some farms (e.g., robotic milkers, automatic feed pushers, automatic calf feeders, etc.), people are still needed onsite to operate and manage the automated systems as well as to provide care that cannot be automated.

Is there anyone available to communicate remotely with my employees at the farm?
Yes, we are available to assist farmers remotely via conference call (e.g., Zoom, WhatsApp). Please contact Dr. Jeff Workman at workman.45@osu.edu or Dr. Gustavo M. Schuenemann at schuenemann.5@osu.edu (Ph: 614-625-0680).

Can livestock or other animals be infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus?
The Center for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) has reported that while this virus seems to have emerged in China from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person. There is no reason to believe that any animals including livestock or pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus.
There are bovine coronavirus infections that are caused by different strains of coronavirus such as: calf diarrhea, winter dysentery in cows, and bovine respiratory disease complex (shipping fever).
It is illegal and dangerous to use any vaccines or drugs labeled for cattle for human use. No current products will help prevent or cure COVID-19.
Merck Veterinary Manual:
https://www.merckvetmanual.com/digestive-system/intestinal-diseases-in-ruminants/intestinal-diseases-in-cattle

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#animals

Do farm workers develop a better immune systems?
Your immune system helps your body fight an infection from microorganisms. Microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, fungi (yeasts & molds), protozoa, and algae. The microorganisms that infect and cause disease are called pathogens. Being exposed to various pathogens commonly found on a farm can help your body develop some immunity. However, this novel strain of coronavirus is new and different from other strains of coronavirus in which you may have been previously exposed. COVID-19 appears to spread very easily between people because it is able to spread without people knowing they are infected and there is no immunity to the virus in the population.

How is this coronavirus different from the common cold or flu?
Many different respiratory viruses can cause the common cold, but rhinoviruses are the most common. Other virus such as coronaviruses, parainfluenza, and adenoviruses may also cause the common cold. Flu is caused by the influenza virus. Flu is considered to be a more serious and dangerous infection than the common cold. The COVID-19 coronavirus has many of the same signs and symptoms as the common cold and flu. It would be closest related to those coronavirus strains that do occasionally cause a common cold. However COVID-19 is different because it is novel meaning our bodies do not yet have any immunity, and it can cause serious disease and death in certain groups of people similar to an influenza virus.
CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.html
CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm

How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19?

1) Social distancing: This helps to prevent spread of virus from person to person. Social distancing includes avoiding large groups of people and the closing of certain public businesses and events. Groups of people who are only in contact with those within their house or farm and are not in contact with other people are less likely to experience community spread. Avoid hand shaking when greeting someone and maintain 6 feet of distance from other people.
2) Proper hand washing and sanitation: It is extremely important you wash your hands frequently and after touching a high contact surface. The virus may live on surfaces for 2-3 days. If you touch a surface such as a doorknob or counter that has virus on it, and then you lick your fingers or touch your mouth, nose, eyes, or face, you could become infected. By washing your hands frequently and wearing disposable gloves, you decrease the risk of becoming infected or potentially spreading a virus to others. Most people still need to go to public places on occasion such as the grocery store and gas station. It is important to maintain 6 feet of distance from other people and wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds, or if a sink and soap aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol). Keep the bathrooms and break/kitchen area in your workplace and at home clean and disinfected.
3) Avoid any direct contact with individuals feeling sick or experiencing the symptoms/clinical signs of common cold or flu. With the exception of those responsible for providing care for sick individuals.
CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Should I report to work?
The short answer is “YES”, unless you are sick or experiencing the symptoms/signs: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath.
CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html

What if I start to feel sick or are getting symptoms/signs?
Symptoms/signs are similar to the cold or flu: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Emergency signs are difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face. Emergency signs require that you immediate call your health care provider for help. Do not go in-person as you might spread to others. By calling ahead, health care professionals can give you instructions and prepare for your arrival. You may also contact your manager or supervisor to help you contact the doctor’s office if you are experiencing these symptoms/signs.
CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html

How long will this concern about COVID-19 last?
All of the current changes are intended to reduce the spread. Eventually, a vaccine or treatment may be developed and manufactured that will allow protection of individuals and the population such as with the seasonal flu vaccine. No one knows for certain how long it will take for life to return to normal, but a few weeks or months of collective efforts will certainly make a huge difference within our community.
All farms should immediately implement
stricter biosecurity protocols for all outside
personnel and visitors.

For a PDF print out please click here- COVID-19_Handout_ENGLISH     COVID-19 Handout_SPANISH

Posted in Safety

Coronavirus

Source: Knox County Health Department

What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
COVID-19, or coronavirus disease 2019, is an upper respiratory tract disease caused by one of the seven coronaviruses known to infect humans. It was first identified in humans in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019. The virus that causes COVID-19 is called SARS-CoV-2.

Who is at risk?
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers risk to the general public in most communities to be low. People who recently traveled to China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, or Italy, and people who care for patients with COVID-19 are at higher risk. As of March 16, 2020, there are 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Ohio. No confirmed cases in Knox County.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms, which generally appear two to 14 days after exposure, include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Most people who become sick do not require hospitalization, but older adults, people with chronic health conditions, and people with compromised immune systems are more likely to require more advanced care.

How does it spread?
Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. The virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 is spreading from person-to-person and someone who is actively sick with the disease can spread the illness to others. That is why CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

How can I prevent it?

Currently, there are no vaccines available to prevent COVID-19 infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) recommends typical infectious disease precautions, just as those used to prevent cold or flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • Cover coughs/sneezes with your arm or a tissue.
  • Avoid exposure to others who are sick.
  • Stay home you are ill (except to visit a health care professional) and avoid close contact with others.
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.

Also, clean high-touch areas – counters, tables, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, nightstands – every day using household cleaning spray or wipes according to label directions.

Where is it spreading?
While the COVID-19 outbreak began in China, it is now spreading worldwide, threatening to cause a pandemic. Sustained, ongoing person-to-person spread in the community is occurring in some international locations. In the U.S., several instances of infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 have occurred in people with no travel history and no known source of exposure in several states. This has raised the level of concern about the immediate threat of COVID-19 for certain communities.

Should I wear a face mask?
The use of face masks by people who are not sick is not recommended to protect against respiratory diseases. Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent spread of the disease and by healthcare workers and others taking care of someone in a close setting.

Where have there been confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Unites States and globally?
For an updated list of countries reporting confirmed COVID-19 cases, please visit the CDC website here.

Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19?
It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months, but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months. At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer.

How is COVID-19 treated?
There are no medications specifically approved for COVID-19. Most people with mild coronavirus illnesses will recover on their own and may not require hospitalization. However, some people develop pneumonia and require increased medical care or hospitalization.

Grain Bin Safety

Click on the picture below for an eye opening video on grain bin safety.  Be sure to take all safety precautions when entering a grain bin.  You can be trapped in a very bad situation in a matter of seconds!

Safety at the Bin

Source: Lisa Pfeifer – OSU Ag Safety and Health Education Coordinator

Approaching harvest makes for a busy time on the farm. Stop and take the time now to inspect on-farm grain handling facilities before the combine heads to the field. Assess the 10 items on our list and make repairs or improvements to deficiencies. OSU Ag Safety & Health wishes you a safe fall harvest.

Fire Safety During Harvest Season

Source:  Dee Jepsen, OSU

Meteorologists would likely correct us if we referred to this year’s summer climate as bipolar. However, the early fall rain patterns seem to be completely different depending on where one stands in the state. It is either rain, and lots of it – or dry, on the verge of drought. So when readers see an article about fire safety for harvest season, it is intended for those encountering dry and windy conditions, whenever these conditions appear.

October and November are two months where fire is a particular concern. In agricultural areas, fires can break out during unseasonably warm temperatures. Fire risks are particularly a concern around fields with dry crop residues, near woodland areas, or within equipment with heated bearings, belts, and chains. There are several aspects to consider for fire prevention and fire protection during harvest season.

Preventing Combine Fires

Combines are at high risk of fire. Work crews should take extra precautions to prevent fires from starting.

  • Park a hot combine away from out-buildings. Keeping a combine out of barns, shed, and away from other flammables is a common prevention strategy in case a hot spot ignites. Insurance claims can double when equipment fires are responsible for loss of farm structures.
  • Regular maintenance is priority. Check the machine daily for any overheated bearings or damage in the exhaust system. Keep the fittings greased. Maintain proper coolant and oil levels. Repair fuel or oil hoses, including fittings and metal lines, if they appear to leak.
  • Keep dried plant material from accumulating on the equipment. Frequently blow dry chaff, leaves and other crop materials that have accumulated on the equipment with a portable leaf blower or air compressor. Be sure to inspect the engine compartment and other areas where chaff accumulates around bearings, belts and other moving parts.
  • Maintain the electrical system. Pay attention to machine components that draw a heavy electrical load, such as starter motors and heating/cooling systems. Monitor circuits for any overloading, especially if fuses blow regularly. Keep wiring in good condition and replace frayed wiring or worn out connectors.
  • Refuel a cool engine whenever possible. Never refuel a combine with the engine running. It is recommended to turn off the engine and wait 15 minutes; this helps to reduce the risk of a spill volatilizing and igniting.
  • Prevent static electricity while operating in a dry field. Use a ground chain attached to the combine frame to prevent static charges from igniting dry chaff and harvest residue, letting the chain drag on the ground while in the field.
  • Have 2 fully charged fire extinguishers on the combine.  ABC fire extinguishers are recommended on farm machinery. In a combine, keep a 10-pound unit in the cab and a 20-pound unit mounted at ground level.
  • Have 1 fully charged fire extinguisher in the tractor, grain cart, and pickup truck. ABC fire extinguishers are recommended on farm machinery. These extinguishers are good for fires at incipient phases – meaning at the first sign of smoke or a small flame.

When a fire appears, it is important to put worker protection before saving equipment.

  • Have an emergency plan in place and be sure all employees know the plan. Combine fires happen fast – be sure all employees know what to do if smoke or fire appears.
  • Turn off the engine. If in the combine cab, turn off the engine and exit the machine.
  • Call 911 before using the fire extinguishers. If the fire is in the cab, only use the 10-pound fire extinguisher from the outside of the cab – on the exterior platform. If the fire is on the ground, use caution when opening the engine compartment or other hatches as small fires can flare with extra air. Stay a safe distance away from the fire.
  • Use a shovel on small field debris fires. Throwing dirt over burning field residue can stop a fire from spreading. However, stay back if the fire takes off.