HFB COVID UPDATE – Counties Stay at Home Order, Memo for Essential Business, and Letter to the Governor
Aloha Members and Friends of HFB,
Yesterday, Mayor Caldwell and Mayor Victorino issued orders for Oahu and Maui residents to STAY AT HOME and WORK FROM HOME. Agricultural operations have been deemed “ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES” and are exempt from these orders.
CITY & COUNTY OF HONOLULU
Mayor Caldwell issued Emergency Order No. 2020-02, which requires all individuals on Oahu to shelter in place; stay home and work from home. The order does allow individuals to conduct necessary activities and allows ESSENTIAL BUSINESS and government services to continue operation.
The Emergency Order No. 2020-02, will allow agricultural operations to continue and defines “ESSENTIAL BUSINESS” as:
Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing.
Grocery stores, certified farmers’ market, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruit and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry.
Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies needed to operate (we believe this includes Agricultural Support Services).
This Order is effective at 4:30 p.m. TODAY – Monday 23, 2020, and will continue through Thursday, April 30, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. subject to the limited exceptions and under the terms and conditions more particularly set forth below. Violation of any of the orders is punishable as a misdemeanor, with fines of up to $5,000, up to a year in jail, or both.
Mayor Victorino’s Order, effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, March 25, 2020, orders all Maui County residents to stay at home until April 30, 2020. The stay at Home and work at home order exempts “Essential Activities,” “Essential Businesses,” and “Government Operations.”
Maui county’s order will allow agricultural operations to continue. It lists “agricultural operations” as an ESSENTIAL BUSINESS.
MEMO TEMPLATE FOR ESSENTIAL BUSINESS
Attached is a memo that you can use for your employees that are critical for your business operations.
March 23, 2020
To Whom it May Concern,
______________________ is an employee of the Hawaii Farm Bureau and is allowed to perform agricultural duties as specified in the City & County of Honolulu and Maui County’s “Stay at Home and Work from Home” orders.
Under the order, food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing are considered “ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES” and are not subject to the “Stay at Home and Work from Home” orders. Farmers’ market, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruit and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry are also considered “ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES”.
In addition, the orders direct “Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies needed to operate” to be exempted.
The Hawaii Farm Bureau provides support and services to farmers and ranchers across the State of Hawaii. The Hawaii Farm Bureau is an “ESSENTIAL BUSINESS” under the City & County of Honolulu and Maui County’s “Stay at Home and Work from Home” orders and permitted to conduct business.
Executive Director, Hawaii Farm Bureau
LETTER TO THE GOVERNOR
We sent the attached letter to Governor Ige on Saturday, March 21, 2020, urging him to follow states such as New York, California, Illinois and provide appropriate exemptions for food distribution, including for sales of wholesale, retail, prepared food (drive-thru, carry-out, and delivery), farmers’ markets, and all agricultural activities.
We respectfully request that if Governor Ige issues a “shelter-in-place” order or other emergency declaration that would negatively impact Hawai’i’s farmers and ranchers, that agriculture be considered an “Essential Business”.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has designated food and agriculture as one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors; a sector considered so vital to our country that its incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health, and safety. This designation was made to help ease uncertainties, roadblocks, and potential farm failures in the face of COVID-19.
Across the U.S., “shelter-in-place” and the fear of spreading COVID-19 is threatening access to farm labor and disrupting food distribution and markets. This has already affected product availability in Hawai’i and could lead to long-term shortages if we are unable to keep the food supply chain intact.
Hawai’i cannot afford to sit by and let our local producers flounder while the people of this state go without. There can be no interruption in the agricultural process; immediate action is needed. Because of the closure of restaurants and schools, many local farmers have lost their customers and their cash flow. By the time our retail markets are completely devoid of food and other necessities, it may be too late to resurrect our farms.
We recognize that the State and counties are working hard to ensure operational continuity. As part of that effort, we urge the State government to swiftly follow and implement the federal directive to allow agricultural businesses to continue operating amid current and potential restrictions put in place to stem the spread of the virus. We need to ensure there is a continuous and uninterrupted supply of food to Hawai’i’s people.
Our local farmers and ranchers are committed to grow and harvest the food we all depend on. We urge the State government to actively engage and work to ensure that farmers continue to have markets for their products. We ask you to declare farmers’ markets and all agriculture-related operations to be critical and essential businesses.
We are respectfully reminding our leaders and lawmakers of agriculture’s critical nature to humanity’s well-being. Hawai’i farmers and ranchers want to feed you through this unsettling time. We need to support them so they can.