Farm Bureau: Vaccine mandate may impact supply chain

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise nationwide, the Department of Homeland Security will require non-U.S. persons seeking to enter the United States at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These new restrictions will apply to non-US individuals traveling for essential and non-essential reasons.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented on the announcement that DHS would enforce these vaccine requirements at land ports of entry and ferry terminals.

“Farmers and ranchers share the goal of keeping American families healthy and safe. We also have a responsibility to put food on the tables of those same families,” Duvall said. by the fact that the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to require essential workers to be vaccinated before entering the United States limits agriculture’s ability to produce safe and nutritious food. solid and stable work, the crops could also rot in the fields. …

“DHS has failed to provide proper notification of the mandate, leaving farmers, ranchers and agricultural suppliers no time to prepare. Farm workers and truck drivers provide essential skills and have been designated as essential by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Further limiting available labor will exacerbate existing supply chain issues as families face rising prices and fewer options at the grocery store.

Vaccine mandates have polarized politically in recent months, especially as the omicron variant of COVID has grown in popularity.

vaccine mandate
Image by BaLL LunLa, Shutterstock

Non-U.S. persons traveling to the United States through land ports of entry or ferry terminals, whether for essential or non-essential reasons, must:

  • verbally attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status;
  • provide proof of a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccination, as listed on the CDC’s website;
  • present a valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document, such as a valid passport, Trusted Traveler Program card or Enhanced Tribal Card; and,
  • be prepared to present any other relevant documentation requested by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer during a border inspection.

While the vaccination requirements may sound good in theory, according to Sarah Black, general manager of Great Lakes Ag Labor Services, an agricultural labor agency for Michigan Farm Bureau members focused on H-2A seasonal visas, the reality of the DHS mandate is problematic on several fronts.

“Unlike previous COVID-related restrictions, this DHS requirement does not provide exemptions for ‘essential workers’ which have traditionally included guest workers used on our farms and throughout the food chain who help bring in food. at your table,” Black said, noting that several Michigan farms have workers expected to start arriving in the next two weeks.

Additionally, the DHS mandate requires proof of a “CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccination, as listed on the CDC’s website,” which means guest workers would need a series of vaccines approved at one or two doses before the trip.

“Unfortunately, the vaccines on the approved list are not readily available throughout Mexico, and it’s not as easy to get them because the Mexican government administers COVID vaccinations in that country,” Black said, adding that the vaccination rate in Mexico is currently estimated. operate at 50%.

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