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COVID19 Update & Resources for IBA Members

Updated: 12 hours ago

The Independent Bakers Association approaches the ongoing coronavirus pandemic with a dual mission: preserving the supply of baked goods to American consumers and protecting the health and safety of IBA member-companies, their staff and families. We will attain these goals by keeping up-do-date resources available on this webpage and by engaging Congress, federal agencies and state governments to promote IBA members' needs.

*new* After weeks of coordinated outreach by IBA and the Food & Beverage Issue Alliance, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced new regulatory flexibility.  IBA first alerted FDA of the potential need for labeling flexibility in early March, when member-companies reported the possibility of supply chain disruptions for ingredients sourced from China.  Please contact Nick Pyle at nick@ibabaker.com or (703) 585-0855 with concerns or to report an interruption.

FBIA submitted a letter summarizing the need for flexibility across the food supply-chain and met with FDA leaders via webinar on March 26.  

First, FDA announced it would extend its period of enforcement discretion for compliance with the Nutrition Facts Panel regulatory update by an additional six months, to December 31, 2020.  The agency intends to closely coordinate with food manufacturers throughout the rest of the year to assist in compliance.  At this time, the compliance date for manufacturers with less than $10 M in annual food sales remains January 1, 2021, though FBIA has requested this be extended to July 1, 2021, as most small manufacturers shift their focus to feeding America during the coronavirus pandemic.

Second, to facilitate the distribution of food during the pandemic, FDA published Guidance for Industry: Temporary Policy Regarding Nutrition Labeling of Certain Packaged Food During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, to provide restaurants and food manufacturers with flexibility regarding nutrition labeling of certain packaged food.

Congress is set to pass its second major legislative response to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 27.  Below are highlights of both statutes pertinent to the baking industry: 

The first response package, Families First Coronavirus Response Act, was enacted on March 18.  It provides additional funding of more than $3 B for nutrition, health, treasury and defense programs.  It expands existing sick and family leave programs and supplements emergency unemployment insurance for those out of work because of the pandemic.  The statute offers a series of tax credits for employers who provide emergency leave.  State unemployment insurance plans can access a portion of the $1 B in federal dollars allocated by the law.  Read an in-depth bill summary here The U.S. Department of Labor announced corresponding guidance to assist employers and employees as they implement the new leave programs.  DOL is expected to promulgate a series of rules to implement the legislation by its effective date, April 1.  Though the law expressly applies to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, it gives DOL the authority to create a small business exemption for businesses with fewer than 50 employees who face an undue hardship resulting from employees' use of emergency leave.  IBA engaged leaders at DOL's Wage & Hour Division to offer recommendations for a final small business exemption.   The Senate is expected to pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 25, after two failed procedural votes on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)'s original proposal.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) intends to quickly pass the Senate-backed bill, despite objection from the left end of her caucus.   When enacted, the CARES Act will inject a massive $2 T in stimulus funding to several parts of the economy.  This includes direct cash payments to mid- and low-income Americans, as well as business loans at near-zero interest.  The legislation will delay payroll taxes and relax tax liability for those who tap into their retirement accounts.  It will further increase funding for emergency unemployment insurance.  Claimants will be insured from up to four months post-layoff.  

As more states and localities implement curfews, workforce restrictions and shelter-in-place orders, IBA is coordinating with federal agencies to ensure all links in the agriculture-food supply chain are able to operate without interruption or delay.  As a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Critical Infrastructure Sector, food industry operations are essential during this national emergency and are therefore exempt from local or state COVID-19 travel restrictions.   In addition to all employees of food manufacturers, processors and ingredient suppliers, independent distributors are a critical part of the food supply chain.  IBA members should consider offering this Critical Industry Certificate to contractors as well as transportation and delivery employees.  If an employee or independent distributor is delayed or refused access to travel by law enforcement, please report the incident to FEMA's National Business Emergency Operation Center's 24-hour email hotline at nbeoc@fema.dhs.gov.  Please contact Andrea Hart with any questions or concerns.

Resources for IBA Members

CDC Guidance for Employers (updated 3/20/20)

Webinar: Food Science and Supply Chain Considerations for Food & Beverage Companies (recorded 3/20/20) Webinar: Coronavirus Outbreak - Tracking the Worldwide Spread (recorded 3/20/20) DHS Critical Infrastructure Partners Update (Tuesdays and Thursdays until further notice): 3:00 pm E; Dial-In #: 1-800-593-7177; Passcode: 7963614)

FEMA National Business Emergency Operations Center 24 hour Email Hotline: nbeoc@fema.dhs.gov; Food manufacturers should contact the NBEOC to report existing or potential 1) supply chain/sourcing interruptions and 2) transportation or workforce interruptions or delays resulting from local curfews or shelter-in-place orders. The agriculture-food supply chain is a DHS critical infrastructure sector.

DHS Critical Industry Certificate - Prepared by IBA for independent distributors serving the baking industry.

DHS Critical Infrastructure Guidance Webpage: Food & Agriculture Sector

CDC Webpage: Resources for Businesses & Employers FDA Food Industry Stakeholder Call (recorded 3/18/20)

updated 4/2/20, 12:05 pm