With more than two-thirds of the U.S. population officially urged to stay at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many pork industry employees may be asking what if I get pulled over by law enforcement on my way to work? How can I prove I'm working for one of the 16 critical infrastructure industries, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, and have a special responsibility to maintain a normal work schedule?
"Whether you're on a farm, a feed mill, a truck driver, working in a packing plant or in a grocery store, all of us have a duty and responsibility to keep the food industry operating in the United States as we work through COVID-19," says Bill Even, CEO of the National Pork Board. "It's important that the workforce, farmers or people going to the packing plants, have permission to travel."
The NPB has put together a pork-specific critical industry employee authorization to travel template that everyone in the pork industry - can print off and customize for their production system or business. Once it is properly filled out, all employees should have it on their person or in their vehicle as they travel to and from work as part of the U.S. critical infrastructure, Even says.
Another resource NPB has put together with the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the Swine Health Information Center is a Farm Crisis Operations Planning Tool. Available on NPB's COVID-19 resources page, the tool helps producers further examine the resources and supplies, such as feed, water, farm equipment and personnel, that may be affected during various states of emergency.
"Bottom line for the folks from the production side is recognizing that your normal crisis plan might look a little different when you're dealing with perhaps some supply shortages or other disruptions in transportation," Even says. "We really encourage producers out there to go to Pork.org and the COVID-19 landing page and take a look at this, print it off. It's better to do a little planning right now and have your situation in hand before something else pops up in the coming weeks."
In addition to these industry resources, Pork Checkoff has been very active in getting messages about pork's versatility and family friendly traits to consumers who are now cooking three meals a day during the COVID-19 crisis.
"You've seen that they've gone out and stocked up on meat and pork and other groceries, and now they're home, perhaps with their children, and schools have been dismissed, and they're trying to figure out how they can enjoy it, so recipes and simple videos are what we've been offering," Even says. "We've had the video ads on our YouTube account and have generated nearly 7 million impressions and 1.5 million views just in this past week. The pork ads are really focused on those easy recipes, simple meal solutions where you can maybe cook once, eat twice."
Pork Checkoff is also working closely with Google and YouTube to put together some brand-new content with its current YouTube content creators, in addition to four new influencers. In the past week, Pork Checkoff's YouTube channel has had 300,000 video views and one of the pork videos trended in the top 25 most-watched on YouTube on Thursday.
"When you think about the size of that platform and to have a pork cooking video in the top 25 trending videos, it shows that there is a literal hunger for how to cook pork and how to enjoy it," Even says.