WASHINGTON — The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) sent a letter to President Trump underscoring the priorities identified by its members to be addressed during the COVID-19 pandemic and related limitations on businesses.
“We are now entering the spring season, the busiest time of the year for farmers and the agricultural retailers who supply and support them,” said ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock in the letter. “Continuous flows of seed, fertilizers, crop protection and custom application are most important in the spring. Even missing one or two days in tight windows for planting, fertilizing or applying crop protection can have significant negative impacts on fresh food and row crop production as well as farm income.”
The letter requests flexibility for the agricultural supply chain, including designating agricultural retailers as “essential” and exempt from any temporary closures of “retail” businesses. It also asks that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Hours of Service (HOS) requirements waiver that has been extended to those carrying medical supplies also include the carrying of farm supplies and other products that are time-sensitive to a functioning supply chain.
“… we ask that you keep in mind the importance of this agricultural input supply chain to the farmers and the consumers who rely on that productivity,” said Coppock.
Also included is a request that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designate agricultural retailers and other parts of the farm supply chain be considered “essential” critical infrastructure and allowed to continue to operate and move essential products for delivery to farmers during any mandatory shutdowns, including commercial ports.